Know How / Beef / Youngstock management

Careful youngstock management in beef herds will help maximise heifer and bull calf performance, bring forward first-time breeding and increase margins. We have advice on newborn calf care, nutrition, breed selection, disease prevention, genetics, target growth rates and first-time breeding protocols.

Case studies

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How the Islavale Simmental herd manages 15% twins

Close attention to twin-bearing cows and milky, prolific genetics is helping a Scottish breeder regularly rear more than 100% calves to cows bulled. The Islavale herd of Berryleys Farm, near…


How a suckler farmer is achieving six-week calving

Good nutritional management, a high bull-to-cow ratio and attention to detail is enabling a Pembrokeshire suckler beef enterprise to halve its calving period from 12 weeks to six and calve…


Video: What’s In Your Livestock Shed? A high-health calf unit

Calves reared in a specific youngstock unit are growing 100g/day faster during the 20-120-day phase in early trial work. The High Health Unit (HHU) prototype has been trialled for two…


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…


How calf rearers have drastically reduced pneumonia cases

Thomas Williams has drastically reduced calf pneumonia by 36% since erecting a purpose-built calf unit.  Mr Williams, who farms with his parents Robert and Angela and wife Michelle in Ellesmere,…


How Co-op’s scheme keeps calves in the supply chain

Food retailer the Co-operative Group is expanding a calf scheme that integrates its dairy and beef supply chains. The scheme provides an outlet for all dairy/beef calves, including dairy bulls…

Practical advice

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How spring-calvers can prepare for end of bull calf euthanasia

Producing a viable dairy bull calf is a challenge in a system that relies on an efficient cow of smaller stature to maximise milk production from grazed grass on the…


Advice on feeding yearling heifers to calve at 22-24 months

Calving at two rather than three years old reduces rearing costs by about £600 a heifer and increases its lifetime productivity.  In addition, it ensures genetics with the best potential…


5 calf deformities, causes and what to do

Calf deformities at birth are caused by a wide range of issues, including physical, nutritional, infectious, and genetic. Some remain a mystery. Alex Roberts, from Garston Veterinary Group in the…


Calculating beef weaning efficiency and why it is important

Vets and consultants are urging suckler farmers to quantify how good their cows really are at rearing beef by looking at a calf’s 200-day weight as a percentage of cow…


How to ensure heifers calve at two years old

For suckler cows to be most profitable, calving for the first time at 24 months old is considered optimum. Research suggests that calving heifers for the first time at this…


What is pelvic scoring and how valuable is it for calving?

A heifer breeding soundness examination (HBSE) should be a key part of pre-breeding preparation, alongside bull examinations. This should incorporate objective information that has been accurately calculated or measured, including…



Calf bottles and tube feeders on test

It is unsurprising many farmers are switching from bottles to buckets with teats for feeding milk to older calves. Our test, carried out over a four-month period at my family…


7 risk factors of pneumonia in calves and how to avoid them

Buying calves from multiple sources and feeding calves only once a day could be putting animals at risk of getting pneumonia, a study has found. AHDB assessed data from eight…


What are the benefits of milk replacer for calf rearers?

More than half of all dairy and beef farmers in Great Britain now rear their youngstock on calf milk replacer (CMR) instead of whole milk, with potential disease risks a…


Why textbook heifer growth rates may not be good enough

Dairying experts at home and abroad are questioning whether units are achieving heifer growth targets of 0.7-0.8kg/day and if this gain is sufficient for the modern Holstein. Concerted efforts to…


Is bigger better when it comes to cow size?

Finding the right sized cow to suit the system is key to suckler productivity. Farmers Weekly analyses whether bigger or smaller cows are best. A growing number of farms are…


Pneumonia in calves: Pin down the cause and prevent it

Bacteria that cause pneumonia are fairly widespread and can live in a calf’s respiratory tract without causing disease. In the final part of this series, Caroline Stocks looks at what…


Pneumonia in calves: How farmers can cut the risk

The aim of Farmers Weekly’s new series is to help farmers reduce the costs of pneumonia
in calves. Caroline Stocks sets the scene with 
a look at the results of an…