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When should breeding season end?

On Spring calving suckler farms the stock bull will need to be removed by the 15th July 2021 to ensure no calves are born in May next year. Catherine Egan, Teagasc Beef Specialist discusses the implications of late calving cows and advises on the next steps to take now to get it right for next year

On many beef spring calving herds, the aim is to target calving dates around turnout dates to try and match the grass growth and demand. The number of calving pens also determines how many cows can calve at the same time. With the breeding season well underway in spring calving suckler herds, farmers are considering when to remove the stock bull?

The stock bull will need to be removed by the 15th July 2021 to ensure no calves are born in May next year as shown in Table 1

Table 1- Beef gestation table – 283 days


What difference will this make for your farm?

There will be an increased workload on the farm as these cows may have to be housed longer or if turned out to grass will have to be monitored to reduce  them becoming too fat or having calving difficulties.

Depending on your farming system where will these calves fit in? When weaned next autumn these calves will only be 5 months old or younger. These lighter calves will have a bigger weaning check with a much higher risk of developing pneumonia etc. They may have to be housed in a separate group to other weanlings to avoid bullying and impacting performance overwinter.

If these calves are being sold they will be lighter and obtain a reduced price compared to older comrades. As outlined in Table 2 there could be 70-93kg difference in weight of calves born in the first six weeks of the calving season in comparison to the last three weeks. Assuming €2.30/kg this could be a difference of €161 - €214 per calf.

Table 2: Weight difference depending on calving dates

(Assuming birth weight 40kg and 1.1kg ADG to weaning)

Next steps:

Depending on winter fodder reserves this year there is an option to scan cows 4 weeks after taking out the bull to identify barren cows. Then decisions can be made to manage these cows so they can be culled before winter.

Teagasc Green Acres Roscommon farmer, Martin Connolly operating a FR bull system is on this week’s Beef Edge podcast. Tune in here below 

For more episodes and information covered on the Beef Edge, visit the show page at www.teagasc.ie/thebeefedge

The Teagasc Beef Specialists issue an article on a topic of interest to suckler & cattle farmers every Wednesday here on Teagasc Daily