As we enter October, it is not too late for suckler farmers operating a spring-calving system to review the success of their breeding season ahead of the winter, by scanning their cows.

Cows should be scanned once a farmer is confident that 35 days have passed since the cow was served.

Ideally, farmers should have artificial insemination (AI) dates on hand for each cow, or the known withdrawal date of the stock bull from the breeding herd.

As some suckler farms have a calving season that tends to run into May and perhaps even June, farmers should contact their AI technician if the haven’t already done so to arrange a date for scanning.

Why should suckler farmers scan?

There are a number of benefits from scanning a suckler herd but the main benefit is that a farmer will know what cows to be expecting calves from next spring.

Twins can be identified at scanning – if going in at the right time of pregnancy to scan cows.

Scanning will show up cows that are empty or ‘not in-calf’ and farmers can then make the choice of possibly finishing these cows once they have weaned-off their calves.

With beef price good at the minute and the trade for beef cows strong – both in the mart and the factory – any cows that are not in-calf and any non-performing or problematic cows should be seriously considered for culling.

An experienced scanning technician will also give farmers a predicted date of calving, so cows can be grouped and fed pre-calving in accordance with their scanning dates.

Vaccination dates for pre-calving cows can also be judged off the scanning results to ensure that they are given at the correct time.

Peak calving times will be noted and farmers can prepare in terms of labour for the spring-calving season for 2022.

In an unfortunate situation where a high percentage of cows are showing up not in-calf, farmers may then have to look at the issue of infertility and examine options for their suckler herd.