Beef farmers should pay close attention to body-condition scoring cows six weeks before calving and for up to six weeks after service to minimise calving difficulties and maximise fertility.


Speaking to Farmers Weekly at the BeefExpo, Hexham Auction Mart, Mary Vickers of EBLEX said these were the two critical times when body condition score should be monitored.

“Cows should have the right body-condition score for calving at least six weeks beforehand with no dramatic changes in diet or management in those last six weeks.

“Where possible, in spring-calving herds, body-condition score should be built up in summer to allow cows to mobilise some of that condition over winter and help save on feed requirements.”

When it comes to service, cows should be on a rising plain of nutrition pre-service and there should be no sudden changes of management for at least six weeks post-calving to help ensure cows get in-calf and embryos implant well.

“Any loss of body-condition score during mating should be avoided.”

And it is important to remember that it costs between £450 and £800 to keep a suckler cow for a year, so it is vital she produces a viable calf every 365 days, she explained.

“Spring-calving herds should be aiming to calve down at with a body condition score of about 2.5, while autumn calvers should be about body condition score three when calving. It is important to remember that while overfat cows will struggle to calve unaided, so will excessively lean cows as they will lack the stamina needed to calve unaided and will produce por quality colostrum.”


EBLEX has produced a manual to aid suckler farmers improve fertility. For a copy of the Optimising suckler herd fertility for Better Returns booklet call 0870 241 8829 or email brp@eblex.org.uk