Beef suckler herd fertility has improved says ICBF
Fertility in the national beef suckler herd has improved for the second consecutive year, the 2016 HerdPlus Beef Calving results for the period July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016, released last week by ICBF have confirmed.
The average calving interval has improved by 8 days from 407 days in 2015, to 399 days in 2016 with a similar trend apparent for other important fertility parameters such as calves per cow per year, percentage of heifers calved at 22-26 months of age and percentage of females not calved in period.
In the report, the ICBF point out however that the improvement has not been consistent over the past five years "with the figure for calving interval fluctuating up and down. The stress that important that breeders continue to focus on high Euro-Star bulls with high stars for 'Daughter Calving Interval'".
The percentage of heifers calved 22-26 months of age is showing slow but steady improvement from 12pc in 2011 to 17pc in 2014 and 20pc in 2016
ICBF has also stressed to breeders that "an important aspect of calving beef heifers at 24 months is making sure that they meet target weights. Weighing all cattle is good practice and this is particularly true for replacement heifers. Farmers can do this by using their own scales and subsequently recording weights on the ICBF website, or they can avail of the ICBF technician service.
"Once heifers are weighed farmers can assess performance levels accurately and see where their heifers stand in relation to targets".
Although calving interval and some other parameters has seen some improvement from the 2015/2016 figure, not all parameters show the same positive results a year on. The percentage of calves dead at birth is up from 4.7pc in 2015 to 4.9pc in 2016. Similarly the percentage of calves dead at 28 days is up from 6pc in 2015 to 6.4pc in 2016.
The report shows that the top 15pc of beef suckler herds had a calving interval of 361 days which equated to a calving interval that is all of 5.4 weeks greater than the figure for the national herd average of 399 days.