This year's weanlings must hit targets to maximise output in '15
Recent heavy rain has made grazing conditions very challenging on some farms, forcing farmers to house stock quicker than expected.
Typically, it has been yearling and weanling heifers that have been housed because they soon make a mess of a field or paddock in wet weather as they continuously walk backwards and forwards along the length of an electric fence wire.
Housing is a great time to dose for worms and fluke as well as assess these groups of stock. It's now time to ask yourself the hard questions:
* Are the animals in good enough condition just to house them with no special consideration, or do they need to be batched up and fed on this winter?
* Is your management of young stock having a positive or negative impact on your herd's calving spread, reproductive performance and on stock retention?
To assess your management practices, you need to find out if you are on target to calve more than 70pc of in-calf heifers within three weeks of the first calving; whether you retain more than 85pc of your first calvers to become second calvers the following year; and are more than 95pc of your maiden heifers being submitted for mating within the first three weeks of breeding?
If you are not reaching all of these targets, it may suggest that your management of the heifer calf needs to improve, provided all of your other breeding decisions are in order.
The key to successful heifer rearing is reaching critical liveweights at appropriate times. The main targets are: that the heifers are 40pc of mature liveweight at housing; 60pc of mature liveweight at mating; and 95pc of mature liveweight at calving. Animal age is not so significant.