25 July 1997

Sound advice for autumn sucklers

AUTUMN-CALVING suckler herd producers should be considering weaning cows and ensuring correct calving condition now.

Plentiful, lush grass may make that more difficult than usual, warned Signet regional manager Brian Taylor at this weeks Royal Welsh show. "Its vital to ensure that cows do not become overfat once weaning has taken place."

He said autumn calving sucklers should be weaned onto aftermaths or other bare pasture, and be tightly stocked at 4-5 cows/ha (2-3 cows/acre). Ideal condition score at calving is 2.5.

"Once dried off and with no calf it is easy for them to become over-fat. That will cause difficult calvings, particularly if a bull with a high growth EBV has been used.".

Delaying weaning as a means of reducing cow condition was unlikely to be economical, he said. "Bull calves should be weaned and housed before they are 10 months old, while replacement heifers must grow rapidly to meet the weight targets."

He stressed that this could only be done by weaning and feeding concentrate to maintain or increase growth rates.

"Cows should be kept bare. If they run short of grass, straw could be fed as a buffer."

&#8226 More from the Royal Welsh show in next weeks issue.