1 November 1996

DIYbeef sucklers a better option

BREEDING beef suckler replacements within herds rather than buying-in dairy-bred replacements will bring benefits to the beef industry.

So sayss SAC Aberdeens beef expert Dr Kevin Sinclair, who is currently running a beef cow evaluation project (see page 50).

"The beef industry will have to move towards suckled calf production with no dairy influence – either purebreds or beef crosses. Although the dairy influence does ensure cows have plenty of milk, it is often too much for calves. Calves with a dairy influence also tend to be of poorer quality."

He says that breeding herd replacements, rather than buying them in, is economically feasible, and also gives producers control over the type and breeding of suckler replacement.

"In addition, closing herds and minimising livestock movement should reduce disease risk, such as BVD, and cut welfare concerns." Closing herds should also ensure complete traceability, he says

going to become much more important."

To increase efficiency, producers should also be prepared to embrace new technology, he says. "Estimated breeding values – EBVs – and techniques such as AI and embryo transfer will help to spread the influence of good stock within the herd."