22 May 1998

Rethink advice on breeding strategy

PROLONGING breeding life of suckler cows is increasingly vital due to revaluation of the green £ and the consequent fall in OTMS values, and so producers should reconsider breeding strategies.

High Mowthorpe-based ADAS consultant Duncan Puller advises moving away from using dairy cross cows. "These produce more milk than required, lose condition more easily and are consequently more difficult to get back into calf."

He suggests current replacement rates of 15-18% could drop to 12% with beef bred sucklers. "Dairy crosses produce an average of seven calves, whereas beef sucklers will produce about 10."

Ensuring cows are in the correct body condition, are fed appropriately and checking bulls are working are important, he says.

"Also, do not be tempted to keep animals which are over the hill in the hope they will breed again. Our data suggests that the proportion of cows which fail to hold to service and then rebreed is only 15%, so although it may seem sensible to give cows another go it may not be the best route."