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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Texel tup breeder works towards forage-only system

A Texel flock on the Llŷn Peninsula is one year into the process of switching its tup-rearing system to one based on forage and performance recording. Dafydd Jones of Cefn Caer…


How beef finishers have improved health and cattle weight gain

Productivity and efficiency are core principles of running a profitable beef enterprise, but with so many influential factors it can be a challenge to know what to target. Mixed beef…


How a farmer is improving growth and conformation of sheep

The Cernyw flock of performance-recorded Bluefaced Leicesters is lifting Mule sale weights for its ram buyers by placing a strong emphasis on performance recording and ramping up its ram genetic…


AHDB chair shares his low cost suckler and sheep systems

Simple and low-cost farming is the mantra of Warwickshire sheep and beef farmer Adam Quinney, the AHDB Beef & Lamb chair, who is seeing gross margins of £450/ha on cattle…


How a Welsh hill flock improved market returns and cut costs

Making sweeping changes to management systems on a hard hill farm was out of the question for the Jones family when considering how to add value to their flock. Instead…


How sheep farmer finishes and sells lambs in five months

March-born lambs reared on a dense clover ley at Duncan Nelless’ 566ha mixed organic farm achieve liveweight gains of 400g/day and the whole crop is sold within five months. Thistleyhaugh…

Practical advice

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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…


4 ways to use milking data to drive profitability

Many dairy farmers have access to a wealth of data at their fingertips, but they are not exploiting it to its full value to help drive improvements in herd productivity…


Advice on selecting flock replacements

Ewe productivity is linked directly to flock profitability so selecting replacements is crucial to future performance. Foot and udder health, the condition of teeth and mouth and overall body condition…


Guide to feed planning and forage for finishing lambs

Too many sheep farms fail to produce a plan for finishing lambs, missing opportunities to maximise returns for the current crop and jeopardising ewe condition ahead of the next, says…


9 tips for minimising lamb production costs

As margins get squeezed, keeping a lid of lamb production costs is key to allow for profits to be made. Below, AHDB knowledge transfer senior manager Katie Thorley and Farming…


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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…