Select beef sires for dairy cows with care

When selecting beef sires for use on dairy cows make use of the information available to produce calves with value, independent beef consultant Basil Lowman told a Dairy Circle seminar.

The first selection criteria for beef bulls to use on dairy cows is ease of calving, he advised.

“Then look for ones with a short calving interval, as there is a range of 280-290 days.

” This could make a big difference to the herd calving interval or length of calving block.

“Only then should you look at Beef Value.

But the right Beef Value to aim for will depend on how the calves will be finished.

“Too many heifers are too fat or too light at slaughter, so going for an extreme Beef Value would give them more weight.

But when you do that the steers will never finish off grass,” he warned.

When aiming for calves which will be finished intensively on barley, he advised looking for maximum Beef Value with maximum carcass weight and minimum fat cover.

“For forage based finishing, go for average Beef Value and average levels of backfat.

This won’t produce the biggest carcasses but progeny could be finished cheaply off grass.”