13th November 2019

AgriScot Beef Demonstration to Focus on Selection and Management of Breeding Heifers

An interactive beef demonstration at AgriScot this month is set to focus on selection and management of breeding heifers to maximise output and reduce calving problems.

The demonstration, supported by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), will involve digital voting pads to encourage audience participation to a series of questions focused on the breeding heifers chosen from the SRUC Oatridge campus herd that will be shown in the ring. Agriculture students from Oatridge will assist with the demonstration.

Gavin Hill, Senior Beef Specialist, SAC Consulting, and Stevie Rolfe, SR Cattle Services, will lead the demonstration at the event on November 20th, assisted by a team of students from SRUC’s Oatridge campus.

The aim of the demonstration, explained by Sarah Millar, QMS Head of Industry Development, is to raise awareness of the relationship between the management actions farmers take on their breeding heifers and how it can impact on profitability throughout their lifetime.

“Beef farmers are under constant pressure from tightening margins due to the increased cost of inputs, so by paying particular attention to our breeding systems will help us continue to have an efficient herd fit for the future,” explained Mrs Millar.

“When heifers encounter calving difficulties, it can have severe economic consequences along with a long-term impact on the herd. Factors such as breed, age and frame are routinely considered along with choice of bull but we see increasingly more breeders choose to carry out pre breeding examinations which can simply involve checking if the ovaries are active but also undertaking actions such as pelvic measuring - simply determining if the pelvis is big enough and correctly set to allow easy calving.”

Gavin Hill, Senior Beef Specialist at SAC Consulting explains how heifer management can have positive long-term benefits for cattle herds.

Mr Hill commented: “It is vital we choose the right heifers to breed from. They are the future of the herds and we must take all steps to ensure they will suit not only the farm environment, but that in turn will provide the right cattle to the marketplace.

“Change continues to occur in our cow types with many aiming to reduce the maternal weight, while focusing on traits such as milkiness, fertility and fat cover, which result in a win-win for businesses, with productive females produced for breeding,  but also animals being produced for the food chain have the carcase required to meet market specifications.  Pre-bulling checks and heifer selection can only help in this.”

The demonstration is scheduled to start in the main ring of AgriScot on November 20th at 11.30am.

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