Survey on Welsh suckler herds

A survey of Welsh suckler herds has revealed that the most productive herds have just one short calving season.

A survey of Welsh suckler herds has revealed that the most productive herds have just one short calving season, rather than all-year-round calving.

Farm vets conducted the survey on behalf of Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC), collecting data from 97 herds, consisting of 6,011 cows and 175 bulls.

Some farms had one distinct calving period, while others had two or three separate calving periods, and some farms calved all year round. The herds ranged in size from 20 to 209 cows, with an average of 62 cows. Over half of the cows and almost 40% of the bulls were Limousin or Limousin crosses.

The survey showed single calving periods, or those with two defined calving seasons did well. Live birth rates were found to be lower on farms that calved all year round or had three calving periods.

The average number of calves born alive, per 100 cows, was 92.3. Herds with fewer, tighter calving periods, typically less than 100 days, performed best. On the best farms only 1% of the cows were barren.

Prys Morgan, HCC's industry development manager said: "The survey results suggest targeting a 10-week breeding period. To achieve good performance, far-mers should also focus on the key elements that can affect fertility, including the condition score of the cows, infectious disease status, vaccinations, pre-breeding checks and trace element status. Above all, farmers should focus on the soundness of the bull."

He added: "Top standards of performance need to be achieved on beef farms because of the increasing pressures on margins."

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