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When should breeding season end?

21 June 2022
Type Media Article

By John Kilboyle, B&T Drystock Adviser, Teagasc Galway/Clare

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 2022 to ensure no calves are born in May next year.

What difference will this make for your farm?

Late Calving cows contribute to an increased workload on farm as they may have to be either housed for longer prior to calving or if turned out to grass will have to be monitored closely 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 their older comrades. For example, there could easily be a 90-100kg difference in weight between calves born in Mid-February in comparison to those born in Mid-May. Assuming an average price of €2.30/kg this could be a difference of €207 - €230 per calf.

(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 empty cows. Then decisions can be made to manage these cows so they can be culled before winter.

BDGP; Ensure you meet the Bull requirements by June 30

For anyone who has continued participation in the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP I) for 2022 or those that entered BDGP II in 2017, you must meet the requirements below by June 30. The stock bull requirement stays the same, therefore applicants who are currently using a bull need to ensure he is genotyped 4 or 5 star on the Terminal or Replacement Index and be on the farm for June 30, 2022.

If using a stock bull, at least one stock bull on the holding on June 30 must have been a genotyped 4 or 5 star bull, on either the Terminal or Replacement Index (on a within or across breed basis) at the time of purchase.

If renting in bulls for breeding, you must use bulls that are 4 or 5 star on either the Terminal or Replacement Index (on a within or across breed basis). You must also inform the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) that you are leasing a bull. All movements of bulls for breeding between holdings must be notified to the Animal Identification and Movement (AIM) system and comply with animal health and movement legislation, specifically, these bulls must have cleared a pre-movement test for TB and BVD.

If using artificial insemination (AI), at least 80% of the AI used must be from 4 or 5 star bulls on either the Terminal or Replacement Index (on a within or across breed basis).

If you use both a bull and AI you must meet the requirements of both.

Switching from a stock bull to AI

If you used a stock bull in 2021 and are using AI this spring, to avoid a penalty you need to notify the DAFM  Beefschemes@agriculture.gov.ie  as they will see no stock bull on June 30 and no AI born progeny. If in doubt, contact your Adviser.