The functional suckler cow

 
 ©Catherine MacGregor

©Catherine MacGregor

Managing efficient, productive suckler cows that will thrive within the farm's unique environment has never been more vital, as the beef industry starts to plan for a new period of economic, political and environmental change. These cows also need to make the most of the unit's available resources.

Most factors that affect suckler cow performance are influenced by their genes, so breeding the right type of heifer for the herd is the best way to secure a more profitable future.

Selecting a bull that will deliver good maternal traits such as milk and ease of calving, as well as carcase output, is also increasingly more important.

Using tools such as Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) takes some of the guesswork out of breeding decisions, helping deliver female replacements that will be fit for purpose for many years to come.

While breeding strategies such as crossbreeding can also help produce robust cows that will produce strong and healthy offspring.

Sam Boon
AHDB Breeding Consultant

 

Beef Shorthorn females excel at:

 ©Catherine MacGregor

©Catherine MacGregor

  • Calving ease - low birth weight

  • Easy care

  • Docility

  • Milkiness plus fertility

  • Hardiness - ability to winter outdoors

  • Feed efficiency - they've excellent foraging ability

  • And they are suited to low input systems

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Whilst Beef Shorthorn cross heifers are retained for replacement purposes, steers - previously a by-product - are now in demand for Morrisons Traditional Breeds Scheme.

Beef Shorthorn is able to deliver since breeders have modernised the breed; they've introduced new genetics and carefully selected within the breed. Those selection strategies are on-going with the help of Breedplan, the society's performance recording register.