Hereford and Angus crosses will make a very profitable calf-to-beef contribution

The latest Teagasc Green Acres factsheet confirms that Hereford and Aberdeen Angus cross animals can play an important role in driving both cash flow and profitability within any calf-to-beef system.

Hereford and Aberdeen Angus-bred animals represent 35% of all the calves born to dairy dams in Ireland.

Significantly, heifers of this breed type can be finished at between 19 months and 21 months with steers brought through for slaughter at either 21 months or 23 months-of-age.

All these timeframes confirm the opportunity to maximise grazed grass intakes with early spring-born calves.

Avoiding the need for a second winter feeding period within any calf-to-beef system helps reduce costs while, at the same time, maximising the margin that can be generated from early maturing cattle.

Management of systems

Where the management of Hereford and Aberdeen Angus crossbred heifer calves is concerned, finishing off grass at 19 months to 21 months in October/November of the second grazing season is the target to meet.

Achieving this target will require a lifetime daily gain of 0.8kg. Overall concentrate usage will average 450kg per animal.

Grazed grass, silage and concentrates will account for 73%, 9% and 18% respectively of the animals’ overall diet. Yearling heifers should be turned out in spring, achieving a minimum of 200kg over a 220-day grazing season.

Approximately 250,000 Aberdeen Angus and Hereford male calves come on to the market annually. Research conducted in Johnstown Castle has shown that steers finished off grass are more profitable than their shed-finished counterparts.

February-born male calves are best suited to a 21-month production period. A lifetime daily gain of 0.8kg is required to ensure that the calves are finished off grass.

Steers are stored during the first winter on grass and silage ad-lib. This can be supplemented with 1.5-2.0kg of concentrate daily, depending on silage quality.

Grazed grass, silage and concentrates account for 63%, 19% and 18% respectively of the animals’ overall diet.

Where 23-month steer beef is concerned, animals will be finished indoors during the period December through to February. Carcass weights in the region of 300kg should be targeted with an O+3= classification.

Again, a lifetime daily gain of 0.8kg will be required. Grazed grass, silage and concentrates will account for: 52%; 26%; and 22% respectively of the animals’ overall diet.

For more information on early-maturing beef systems, click here.