Monday 26 September 2016

Beef: The breeding cycle begins anew

Robin Talbot

Published 28/10/2015 | 02:30

Round bale silage will be used as a buffer feed.
Round bale silage will be used as a buffer feed.

We let the Angus bulls out with the heifers on October 10. Hopefully this should see the first calves arriving on July 20, 2016.

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These heifers have all been bought in during the summer. Before being joined with the bulls, they would have been treated for fluke and worms, hoose, vaccinated for IBR and Lepto.

We will leave the bulls with these heifers which are split evenly in two groups for eight weeks.

I always feel eight weeks is long enough for young, healthy heifers to go in calf.

If they take any longer than that, I would consider them slow breeders who, in the long-term, would be no addition to the herd.

Just 34 days after we remove the bulls, these heifers will be scanned. Any not in calf at that stage will be fattened off and sold.

As for the cows, we let the Belgian Blue and Limousin bulls out with them on October 20. All going well, this should see the first calves arriving from August 1.

The bulls will stay with the cows for a minimum of 10 weeks, certainly no longer than 12 weeks but we will make that call nearer the time.

If we felt there wasn't a lot of activity going on with the bulls, we would have no hesitation in taking them out at 10 weeks.

Pre-breeding, these cows and the bulls would have got their booster shot for IBR and Lepto.

It is important to monitor the cows closely when the bulls are running with them, and record the jumbo tag number and date of any cows seen bulling so that we can watch to see if there are many repeats.

Just because a bull was fertile and worked well last year doesn't mean that he will do the same this year and it is particularly important for us this year to observe the cows since we have three new Belgian Blue bulls.

Energy

The cows will be run in groups of 30 to 40, with the bulls being interchanged periodically.

While we have plenty of nice grass in front of the cows at the moment, we have to be conscious of the fact that we need to keep up the energy in the feed since we are heading into our peak breeding season.

So, though grazing conditions are currently ideal, when these change we will move in with some round bale silage as a buffer feed. If it gets cold and wet, we will go to the shed straight away.

It's one of the down sides of autumn calving.

Although we have been grazing out the drier paddocks and closing them up in rotation for next spring's hopefully early grass, we have to be conscious that this is our breeding season and it's more important to get the cows in calf than to graze out the grass.

But is doesn't unduly worry us if some grass gets left behind because what we have done before, which works extremely well subject to ground conditions being suitable and cows safely in calf, is let out a group of cows and calves by day to clean off any remaining paddocks.

We sold the first of our 15-month-old Angus heifers this past week.

They weighed 485kg fresh weight out of the field and killed out 252kg carcase weight, which is a killout of 52pc.

They were all well covered, with most of them having a fat cover of 3+ or better, with none of them overfat.

The remainder of them will go in the next few weeks.

The under 16-month bulls seem to be content and they are thriving well. The first of these will be up for slaughter at the end of November.

We sowed 80 acres of winter barley in ideal conditions. Using a seeding rate of 12st/acre, we sowed 50 acres of Cassia and 30 acres of Tower.

The fields were ploughed, then got a run of a land leveller, sowed with a one-pass and then rolled off with a ring-roller. In between those operations, we removed a couple trailer-loads of stones.

The fields are already starting to turn green.

Hopefully, the corn will be cut around the same time that first calf is being born.

Robin Talbot farms in partnership with his mother Pam and wife Ann in Ballacolla, Co Laois.

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