10 May 1996

Be efficient to survive BSE

TO survive the present beef crisis producers must become more efficient.

One way to achieve this is to improve cow fertility and ensure a calf per cow a year. This was Ian Pritchards advice when speaking at the farmers weekly Coping with BSE conference held at Harper Adams Agricultural College, Salop, last week.

The Signet adviser said that as Continental breeds became more dominant in UK herds, fertility dropped. "A cows gestation length is 280 days. She then has 85 days to recover before returning to the bull if she is to achieve this target of a calf a year," said Mr Pritchard.

He urged producers to use bulls with low estimated breeding values (EBVs) for birth weight.

A low birth weight EBV eases calving and is correlated with a shorter gestation length (see table). &#42


Birth weight EBV

Bull ABull B

EBV+3.5kg-1.3

Birth weight (kg)50.247.6

Gestation (days)287282

Calving difficulty1.921.15