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Watch: A guide on drafting cattle

Watch: A guide on drafting cattle

Drafting cattle for slaughter when they are actually fit to kill is a key management component of successful calf-to-beef systems. At a fat score of 3+, the carcass weight potential of Holstein Friesian steers is maximised.

Moving too early or too late can result in penalties for cattle either being under or over finished. There is also the cost associated with holding on to finished animals longer than necessary - a factor often overlooked in times of a rising market.

Once cattle reach the desired fat score, their efficiency in terms of average daily gain diminishes significantly. Any decision on holding cattle for longer must be made on the basis of the animal’s performance, the costs associated with keeping the animal and the potential increased return achievable from the market.

Another area that warrants consideration is the actual age of the animals. Where animals are fit and there’s the potential of surpassing the 30-month or 36-month mark at slaughter, any increase in price or carcass weight may be wiped out through a reduced quality assurance payment and/or additional feed costs.

In the below video, Tommy Cox, DairyBeef 500 Advisor, offer advices on the key factors to consider when drafting animals:

This video was orignially produced as part of the Teagasc DairyBeef 500's winter series on Agriland in 2023. For more information on the DairyBeef 500 Campaign, click here.

Also read: Breeding better calves for sale