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Cow and Bull Management

Cattle breeding, nutrition and management are central to delivering welfare and technical performance targets.  It’s a big subject, from genetics to husbandry and health to nutrition (including grazing).

Firstly, define breeding objectives of your suckler herd e.g. do you want to produce your own replacements, sell high health stock or out winter cows?  Genetics are permanent and cumulative but it takes a while to realise the change so it is important to give it the necessary attention now.

It is often said that the breeding bull is 50% of the herd.  He needs to be functional in type, fit for the breeding season, as well as contribute the preferred genetics.  Firstly, he needs to settle cows’ in-calf, which is partly genetic but majorly influenced by management.

Suitable nutrition goes beyond a standard ration, tweaked depending on forage quality.  It involves managing body condition between different cow groups, ensuring the right minerals are fed, and making best use of grass.

Key Messages

  • Take time to consider what the breeding objectives are and set targets
  • MOT and manage breeding bulls accordingly
  • Select the most fertile and maternal heifers as herd replacements
  • Manage cow body condition
  • Weigh and measure to better learn how to further improve performance.

Genetics, nutrition and an active health plan supports good herd welfare and a cost effective enterprise from cows that calve easily, provide sufficient colostrum, low disease challenge and subsequently strong growth rates.

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Cows that are defensive of calves are counter-intuitively NOT better mothers

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