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Farms lose fortune on their calves.

WELSH beef farmers are missing out by as much as PS4,000-a-year just by failing to follow the most efficient calving cycle for their herd.

In Wales the average age of heifers at first calving is 35 months - 11 months more than recommended by industry experts, said Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC).

Calving at 24 months could yield another two calves per cow per lifetime for an average 25-strong Welsh herd.

This could result in an average annual income increase of PS162 per cow, according to Gwawr Parry, HCC's industry development officer.

"The age at first calving has major implications for the lifetime production of a breeding suckler cow," she said.

"The delay in a heifer's first calving is usually due to the fear of calving immature, undersised heifers, but with the right management, heifers can, and should be, run with a bull at 14 months."

Latest BCMS data shows that the average calves per lifetime is currently 5.4, with an average calving interval of 432 days. The optimum interval is 365 days, said Gwawr.

Calving spread can also have a huge impact on calving intervals.

Fixed calving periods help in hitting the 365-days target - anything that does not calve within the allotted period should be culled.

"Earlier calving helps but it is important to consider how the cow is managed after calving," said Gwawr.

"Optimum weight or body condition scores are crucial.

"This is a win-win situation because the benefits of calving younger include an increased number of calves per lifetime."

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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Date:Mar 17, 2016
Words:252
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