17 January 1996

Genetics make suckler sense

SUCKLED calf producers must look to improved genetics in both sire and dam to maximise profits and sustain outlets.

Gethin Havard of the Brecon and Radnor Suckled Calf Rearers Group, which has 450 members farming 18,000 cows, said milk yield was vital in maintaining profits because milk was the cheapest feed for the young calf.

"However, the Holstein cows influence on the dairy crossbreds conformation cuts the sale value of the calf and even when an excellent terminal sire was chosen there would still be some poorer calves linked to the Holstein."

"It is vital for our industry to know more about the milking ability of beef cows. And to know more about the final size of the dam.

"A smaller dam is better able to retain condition from summer grazing, minimising winter feed costs for spring calvers and enabling the producer to present the cow in the right condition for breeding," said Mr Havard.

He said that this improved fertility was vital in producing a calf every year and sustaining income.

"Fertility is also linked to ease of calving and this should be sought at the expense of high calf birthweights," he said.

Mr Havard suggested that the calves produced must have a greater uniformity across batches and that smaller calves should be sold singly. It was better to have a uniform batch of calves because buyers are more discriminating.

For this reason Mr Havard suggested creep feeding was increasingly important so that the calf is presented at market in excellent condition.

Gethin Havard of the Brecon and Radnor Suckled Calf Rearers Group says it is vital for the industry to know more about the milking ability of beef cows.


SUCKLER EFFICIENCY


&#8226 Smaller cow.

&#8226 Better fertility.

&#8226 Good milking ability.