Know How / Assessing performance

Monitoring, recording and analysing your herd or flock’s performance is vital for a successful dairy, beef, sheep or pig business. Find out how to use condition scoring, growth rates, EID and scanning information to improve performance, inform breeding programmes, and manage cost of production.

Case studies

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On-farm project shows cost benefits of home-rearing bull beef

Home-rearing bull beef on ad-lib concentrates and straw has worked out marginally cheaper for a Welsh suckler enterprise than outsourcing the job to a finishing unit. The Griffith family run…


How to work out ewe efficiency and what it can tell you

Calculating ewe efficiency can help inform fundamental flock management areas such as mature ewe weight, feeding management and weaning date.   SAC Consulting sheep and grassland specialist Poppy Frater says the process of calculating ewe efficiency…


3 ways pig farmer is using data to improve herd performance

A strict culling strategy is at the centre of improvements throughout pig producer Simon Watchorn’s outdoor breed-to-finish herd. Simple record-keeping and assessment of the whole herd’s performance have helped pinpoint…


How Welsh beef farm is in top third for low carbon emissions

A Welsh beef farm is achieving carbon emissions that are 17% lower than average. Paul and Dwynwen Williams run a herd of 60 suckler cows and intensively finish 120 dairy-bred…


How EID is helping beef finisher identify poor performers

Beef producer Geraint Evans finishes about 400 cattle annually using electronic identification (EID) technology to hit target market weights and specifications. Mr Evans aims to achieve an average daily liveweight…


UK pig farm using EID to track piglets from birth

Pig farmer and vet Charlie Thompson, Bridge House Farm, says EID is a tool he could not live without – it is helping him to manage breeding decisions, monitor performance…

Practical advice

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How and what to record to inform suckler cow culling

Every commercial farm has its own aims and parameters, but there are some key breeding goals and culling criteria to drive suckler herd performance and profit. This is according to…


Guide to understanding a beef killing-out sheet

Taking the information from the kill sheet, and using some basic sums, can reveal a heap of information about production and efficiency. All too often cattle are sent to slaughter…


How to troubleshoot poor lamb growth rates

Assessing lamb performance early on is essential to ensure steps can be put in place to maintain growth rates post-weaning. The AHDB sheep key performance indicators project found light lambs…


How spring calvers are milk recording to lift cow efficiency

A Welsh dairy farm selling milk on a solids contract is using milk recording data to breed replacements from cows yielding 1kg milk solids (MS) to every 1kg of their…


7 ways to help hit lamb growth targets

Lamb producers can hit lamb weights by putting strategies in place which can be measured at eight weeks. Lamb weights at eight weeks are a good indication of maternal milk…


Canadian learnings: 4 ways UK sucklers could improve profits

Beef production is a major enterprise in Canada, with more than 90,000 producers in the country. However, with harsh winters and hot summers ⁠— as well as the increasing population…


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Beef sector lacks incentive for meat quality, farmers say

Processors and supermarkets are missing out on opportunities to grow the value of beef by failing to pay farmers a premium for meat with good eating quality. That’s the conclusion…


5 new livestock gadgets for farming in 2020

From innovation to slightly improved design, engineers and inventors are constantly striving to produce the next big gadget in livestock farming.  Farmers Weekly has looked at the top products that…


Beef sire worth up to €200 more in dairy-cross calf profit

Selecting the right beef bull on terminal traits could benefit Irish beef farm margins by €150-€200 a head in carcass quality and feed efficiency, according to a national initiative. Industry…


4 sheep recording methods compared: which one is best?

Carmarthenshire sheep farmer and Aberystwyth University graduate Huw Williams completed a HCC scholarship in 2015 looking at how extensive systems in New Zealand and Australia were recording parentage. Talking about…


Research shows value of monitoring ewe body condition

New research has shown just how valuable it is to record and monitor body condition in commercial ewe flocks and keep it consistent year-round.   Independent sheep consultant Lesley Stubbings…


Selecting for feed efficiency could raise beef profits 39%

Including feed efficiency in the genetic selection indices of beef cattle has the potential to increase farm-level profit by 39% and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 22%. Preliminary results…


6 key factors influencing dairy herd profitability

The importance of maintaining a long-lived herd by keeping cows healthy and reducing deaths are key to profitability during periods of milk price volatility. Referencing benchmarking data from 65 US…


How top dairy herds cut operating costs in 2016

The best-performing dairy business that made a profit in the low payout year of 2016 managed to reduce their operating expenses by 4p/litre on average, with feed costs being hammered…


Finishing bulls v steers: Which is best for your farm?

Bulls produce higher liveweight gains, heavier carcass weights and achieve better financial returns than steers, a study has shown.  The research, carried out by Harper Adams University, Shropshire, used Holstein…


Finishing performance of terminal sires compared

Calves sired by bulls with higher terminal indices record heavier carcass weights resulting in returns worth an additional £45/animal when compared to progeny of bulls with lower genetic merit. Harper…