Compact calving targets leave no room for error
At this stage, it looks as though there will be close to 85pc of our cows calved within eight weeks. So I am definitely going to see, this coming season, if its possible to shorten our calving period to nine weeks.
I think its very possible but I suppose its like a lot of things in farming, it leaves no room for error.
Traditionally, we would bring in 20pc replacements every year. So, even if it means we have to bring in 25pc, I still think its very do-able.
Looking back at the cost of our replacements against the value of our cull cows, the average over three years shows a gap of €600/head in favour of the cull cows.
Typically, the cull cows would be making somewhere between €1,500-€1,600, with the majority of the replacement heifers coming in at €900-€1,000.
But there's two issues that are critical to those figures. One is that we buy our replacements as early as we can so we can keep down in the weight and down in the money; and the fact that we are autumn calving means we are selling our cull cows in May/early June, when they tend to be at their highest price per kg.
Also, the cull cows would be identified very early and would be grazed separately from the main herd. As a consequence to that, we also wean them early.
In selling our cull cows, carcase weight needs up to be up around 400kg on average and, as everyone knows, a healthy Continental cow will put on a lot of weight on April/May grass.