How was the reproductive performance of the suckler herd in 2018?

The Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) recently published 2018 beef calving statistics, which is aimed to give suckler farmers an insight into the reproductive performance of the national herd.

For the purpose of the report, data was collected mid-year; therefore, the 2018 data covers the period from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018. These national statistics are based on herds with 10 calvings or more.

From the report, we can see that the average calving interval has increased by two days from 394 days in 2017 to 396 days in 2018.

However, the average over the last three years was 394 days, which is four days better than the previous three years. While year-on-year data indicates a negative trend, over the past five years, there has been improvements made when it comes to calving interval.

Data source: ICBF

Similar trends can be seen when it comes to fertility parameters such as: calves/cow/year; percentage of heifers calved at 22-26 months; and percentage of females not calved in any period.

The percentage of heifers calved at 22-26 months has slipped by 2%, but this trait is showing steady improvement over the past five years.

Mortality at birth and mortality at 28 days in 2018 stood at 1.2% and 3.1% respectively. In addition, the number of calves/cow/year stood at 0.85 – down from 0.87 in 2017.

Furthermore, from the above table, we can see that the percentage of calves bred to AI lies at just 16%. While this is on par with 2017 usage, it is back from 24% in 2014.

According to the ICBF, the top 15% of herds had a calving interval of 355 days; this equates to a calving interval that is 5.9 weeks greater than the national herd average of 396 days.

Average figures from over the past five years indicate that the trends are heading in the right direction. However, with year-on-year dis-improvement to most key performance indicators (KPIs), it is important to focus on improving the fertility of the national herd.