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MAY
Beef Focus
www.irishfarmersmonthly.com
Suckler event maps profit path
A suckler event held by Teagasc at its Kildalton College farm last month outlined strategies towards
lifting profitability in the sector.
The key messages were kept direct and to the point,
emphasising the importance of setting breeding targets,
moving to a twenty-four month calving pattern and
using the best available beef genetics across the herd.
The Kildalton suckler herd was used as a template for
best practice as Terry Carroll, Teagasc Business and
Technology Adviser Drystock, explained on the day: "Both
Charolais and Limousin bulls are used on the herd, with
the heifers sold at 18 to 22 months and the males used for
16 month bull beef and as well as steers to 24 months."
As Kildalton is an agricultural college, some of the beefing
decisions are compromised around having a range of
stock on hand for practical demonstrations for students.
Replacement strategies
The replacement policy on suckler farms is one of the
most important aspects and Terry Carroll outlines best
practices: "Twenty-four month calving is top of the list
alongside decisions on which females should be bred for
beef as well as for replacing existing stock." The BDGP
(Beef Data and Genomics Programme) was highlighted
by David Kenny of Teagasc Grange who went through
the potential of using a synchronisation programme on
suckler heifers as a practical means of using AI on at
least part of a suckler herd. "Using AI on a suckler herd is
not common but where possible, it does allow the very
best bull genes to be used on the best cows, even in
conjunction with a natural sire on the rest of the herd."
The reality on many suckler farms is that herds are
scattered across fragmented holdings, some of which
have few cattle holding facilities. In addition, many of
the farmers have o -farm jobs with the suckler herd run
as a part time exercise. That leaves little time for heat
observation and gathering in cows for AI. As Terry Carroll
states, adopting some basic technology can assist where
time resources are scarce: "Tail painting and the use of a
30
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1. McPherson et al. Proceedings of the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists. 44th Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, Abstr. 28, 1999. 2. Verschave et al. BMC
Veterinary Research (2014) 10:264. 3. Studies carried out using Eprinex Pour-on for Beef and Dairy Cattle (Eprinomectin), which has the same formulation as Eprinex Multi 5mg/ml, see HPRA
- (2018) IPAR Eprinex Multi 5 mg/ml pour-on for beef and dairy cattle, sheep and goats [online] Available at: https://www.hpra.ie/img/uploaded/swedocuments/Public_AR_VPA10454-034-
001_07122018154613.pdf [Accessed 18 Feb 2019]
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