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Reduce your calving spread - make more money!

Beef producers can significantly increase profits by reducing the time bulls are left in with the cows at joining time.

That's according to Central Tablelands Senior Lands Officer and Local Land Services (LLS) livestock specialist, Brett Littler.

"The decision about the length of joining time can have a big influence on overall efficiency and ultimately on the bottom line of your operation," said Brett.

Brett recommends joining mature cows over 9 weeks, and leaving the bull in with the heifers for 6 weeks.

"It's best to start joining the heifers 3 weeks before joining the older cows, as heifers are slower to return to oestrus after calving," explained Brett. 

"In a beef breeding system the ideal calving distribution will see 65-70% of calves dropped in the first three weeks, and the rest born over the subsequent 6 weeks. This will result in an even line of calves, all roughly the same age and weight, making it easier to manage these calves and then to market them successfully."

"Over the last few years, with less than favourable seasonal conditions, some producers have been tempted to leave the bulls in longer resulting in a lot more calves born late in the season."

Brett says it's therefore timely to remind producers that a long joining means an extended calving which can lead to a range of problems:

*     Greater chance of feed shortages

*     Greater variation in calf live weight and size

*     Less heifers reaching suitable joining weight for their next calf at 2 years

*     Loss of potential income

Comparing the total kg weight of the calves produced by an extended calving, and compact calving, the difference in production is stark:

Calculating the cost on a 100 cow herd with an 85% weaning rate, and calves growing at 0.9 kg per day, weaned at 200 days after calving commences:

Compared to a 15 week joining to a 9 week joining, shortening the calving period to 9 weeks results in an extra 1,587 kg or 18.7 kg per calf.

"At today's price of $2.80 per kg, this equates to a total extra gross profit $4,444 or $52.36 per calf"

Week of Calving1 to 34 to 67 to 910 to 1213 to 15Total
Weight
Herd 1: 15 Week joiningNo. of Calves
Weaning weight (kg)

17
4,099

17
3,777

17
3,456

17
3,135

17
2,814

(85)
17,281
Herd 2: 9 Week joiningNo. of Calves
Weaning weight (kg)

28
6,751

28
6,222

9
5,896
  
(85)
18,868
Herd 3: 9 Week joiningNo. of Calves
Weaning weight (kg)
70%
59
14,225
20%
17
3,777
10%
9
1,830
  
(85)
19,832

"If producers then manage the herd to get more cows calving earlier in the 9 week period, say 70% in the first cycle, then 20% and 10% in the following periods, the production benefit of this shorter calving period increases to 2,551 kg in total, or an average of an extra 30 kg per calf," said Brett.

"At $2.80 per kg that equates to $7,143 or $84 per calf."

For more information on joining times, calving and herd management contact Brett Littler on phone:  0427 007 398 or email:  brett.littler@lls.nsw.gov.au

Media Contact: Kylie Krause on 0439 608 370