Weighing Up The Future

Numerous articles have been written over time about the importance of weighing cattle, particularly dairy, youngstock and beef animals, but also more latterly dairy cows. With changes in dairy cow genetics, both in terms of pure breeding and cross breeding herds, it is really important to know the average weight of cows, so you can accurately ration the feed that you are giving them and be able to do this over a period of lactations, so you know what changes are coming.

With dairy youngstock, we often get the comment that weighing is time consuming and as long as cattle are growing at the right weight, a pointless exercise because all you are doing is looking back. This is fundamentally wrong as what you are actually doing is looking to the future. If, for example a dairy heifer needs to be 220kgs to turn out to grass and you are 60 days away from grazing, unless she is around 175 kgs now and you are growing at 0.8kg/day, then you are not going to achieve sufficient growth to reach turn out weight. Therefore, weighing is not just a check of previous performance, but gives you a budget for the coming months. If animals are well grown then feed efficiency can be improved. If they are not, then feeding can be increased to achieve live weight gain. In addition, animals of different weights can be split into different groups as smaller animals will always do better in a group of similar size.

In a recent FCG training session on beef animals, the importance of weighing suckler cows and youngstock was explained, as we should be aiming for an average efficiency, of around 45% being the weight of calf weaned to mature cow weight. If you don’t know this figure, then you will have a great range of performance within a suckler herd, each of which has a fixed cost on your business.

Weigh scales are often granted aided under farm productivity schemes and are a very cost-effective investment. In FCG we have some weigh scales that can be used by our clients or alternatively clients can invest, and 2-3 farmers can share to reduce investment cost.

Please contact Max at maxsealy@fcgagric.com or your local FCG Office for further information.

Posted in Beef, Business Management, Chippenham, Dairy & Forage.