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Putting milk back in to a Continental suckler herd

David Monkhouse, Lower Houselop Farm, Tow Law, Co Durham
80 cow suckler herd inc 27 Limousin cross Beef Shorthorn
550 ewes, all lambs finished
273 acres, LFA grassland
Newly established deer enterprise

Putting milk back in to a Continental suckler herd
David Monkhouse with some of his herd

Herd performance
100% cows calved naturally without any assistance
100% calves reared per 100 cows put to the bull
95% calved within the first nine weeks
42.6% suckler cow efficiency
65% of heifer replacement mature body weight at 14 months

Putting milk back into our Continental sucklers was amongst the measures we’ve taken towards improving the unit’s efficiency and making more profit.

 We deliberately steered away from introducing dairy genetics because they eat, eat, eat and they lose the flesh. However, we were aware of Beef Shorthorn, the breed’s maternal traits, hardiness, longevity and a wider pelvic area, so we invested in 27 Continental cross Beef Shorthorn heifers; they were forage reared and from a high health status herd.

Whilst we like the Continentals, seven years on and we also like our Beef Shorthorn crosses; they are demonstrating real hybrid vigour, they’ve reintroduced the milk we were looking for and they’re proving to be the most efficient in terms of overall performance. 

Continental cross Beef Shorthorn cows are slightly smaller maturing at 640kg, and they are more efficient in terms of rearing a calf with a higher DLG at 200-day weaning, at an average 1.35kg.

I prefer to have 100% calves reared, and that’s what they have achieved. Furthermore, 100% have naturally calved without any assistance, the calves are soon up sucking and growing into a nice shapely animal that finishers want to buy.

Earlier this season the Beef Shorthorn crosses calved with less hassle than other cows. Whilst the Beef Shorthorn cross cows were leaner at turnout than the other cattle, they certainly did well and put condition on a lot quicker.

David Monkhouse