Beef and livestock farmers should focus on Valentine’s Day as their cattle turnout date this year, rather than the more traditional St Patrick’s Day target, according to the Teagasc beef advisory newsletter for February.

It points out that, if the weather is suitable, cattle should be turned out this month. This will save money on feed, allow for extra weight gain and allow for more opportunities to spread slurry.

This approach will also allow farmers to graze all of the ground, including silage areas, before growth takes off in early April. But it’s also a case of getting one’s sums right.

There are roughly 50 days from St Valentine’s Day to when growth should take off, so on 100 acres this means grazing two acres a day, it says.

Producers not hitting these targets need to turn out more stock: those grazing more ground than this you need to slow down by either feeding meal/silage outside or by bringing some cattle back in.

Suckler farmers are being advised to actively asses all of their cows. Teagasc now defines a good breeding female as one that produces a weanling for sale every calendar year within a 365-day calving interval; has sufficient milk to maximise weanling gains and is easy kept.

The prerequisite to all of this is that replacement heifers should calve down successfully at twenty four months of age.

Recent Teagasc analysis confirms that – on average – mid February is the best calving date for suckler to weanling systems. In practice, this means calving cows from mid-January to mid-April.

Suckler herdowners should always breed from their most efficient and productive cows. To breed replacements, producers should select sires (AI or stock bulls) using the ICBF Replacement Index. The bottom line is that a profitable cow is a profitable cow, no matter what her colour.