For a suckler herd to be succesful it had to focus on fertility, said Farmers Weekly Beef Farmer of the Year Philip Heard of Okehampton, Devon.
“Fertility is my number-one concern. Any cow not rearing a calf is an expensive passenger to carry.”
To ensure cows got back in calf, Mr Heard told delegates he focused on cow nutrition and rotated bulls every three weeks during the mating season. “Rotating bulls ensures cows have every opportunity to get in calf and its surprising how much difference a change of bull can make to a group of cows.”
Mr Heard said creep-feeding calves, while an expense, was invaluable on two fronts.
“First, it ensures calves grow well to 200 days, their most efficient growth period, and second it reduces the strain on cows, helping keep flesh on the backs and get back in calf easier.”