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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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…


How a farm is lifting beef calf weaning and slaughter weights

Detailed cow and calf performance recording is part of an overall business drive to increase beef output at Hedgeley Farms, Northumberland. Over the past five years, farm manager Vicky Hogg…


App reveals sires worth £120 more in gross margin

Weight gain data from an app has transformed how a beef finisher markets cattle, after revealing a £120 gross margin difference in the best and worst performing sires.  Northern Irish…


How clever mobile cow mast helps improve beef breeding

Cumbrian farmer Edward Dean has built a portable mast to help transfer valuable performance-monitoring data from his Limousin herd in the field back to the farm’s computer. The rolling hills…


How organic farmers plan to become more efficient

Edryd and Glenda Davies are making more from marginal mountain ground by mob and rotational grazing to improve grassland so they can operate a low-cost forage-based system and finish lambs…

Practical advice

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Why farmers should assess costs before changing sheep breed

Sheep farms should fully cost their flock profit margins and assess the impact of small gains in technical performance before looking to change breed or system. This was the message…


Beginner's guide to measuring suckler herd performance

Understanding the performance of a suckler herd is critical for making future decisions and setting targets to improve production and profitability. One way of measuring this is through Key Performance…


4 tips on improving your lifetime daily yield in dairy herds

There has been a rise in lifetime daily yield for a fifth consecutive year, the University of Reading’s ninth annual key performance indicator report of 500 NMR recorded dairy herds…


Tips on dealing with tight cashflow as dairy margins tighten

With input costs rising and a number of milk processors announcing cuts to farmgate prices, dairy farm margins are being squeezed yet again. Many producers will be hoping there won’t…


Video: Guide to selecting lambs for slaughter

Getting the best price for your finished lambs is not just about deciding whether to sell liveweight or deadweight, but about sending lambs that are in the right condition. For…


Replacing cereals with forage can increase beef gross margin

Replacing some cereals in the diet with a high energy forage for finishing beef steers can increase daily liveweight gain and increase gross margin by £115 a head. Researchers at…


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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…


How to increase grazed grass without incurring extra costs

As we approach turnout and grazing opportunities for more profit, it is essential we all understand why there is so much value and profit in planning and using grazed grass. News…


Areas to focus on to improve dairy efficiency

Focusing on efficiency measures rather than cost-cutting should be the objective to establish what is eating away at your profits. The last thing dairy farmers will want to be told…


The costs to consider before increasing milk output

Dairy farmers considering pushing for output just because the milk price is starting to rise are being warned to beware of the additional costs involved.  According to independent dairy consultant…


How data management helps egg producers improve profits

Broiler producers are frequently commended for their data collection and for the fact they use this information to monitor flock performance carefully and respond to changes as and when they…