“In order for the Irish suckler herd to survive into the future, it is my opinion that there are five the main KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) areas that we need to focus on or will be asked to focus on.”
That is the belief of Charlie Devaney, beef advisor, Teagasc Castlerea, who stated that the Irish suckler herd “has some major challenges facing it over the coming years”.
“The reality is that the current situation cannot continue. The question now is: will it be the carrot or stick method that forces this change?” he asked.
KPIs for suckler herd
Devaney discussed the aforementioned KPIs in detail:
- Calving interval– The national calving interval over the last 12 months is 395days. This figure is consistently around 400 days per year. It needs to be closer to 365 days.
- Calves per cow per year– This figure is 0.86 calves per cow per year over the last year. Again, this figure has been around this for quite a while. Basically what it means is that for every 20 cows, we are producing 17 calves each year.
- Recycled cows– Presently 17% of suckler cows in Ireland are not having a calf each year. Therefore, this equates to nearly 2 cows out of every 10.
- Heifers calved at 24 months– Again, the percentage of heifers calving at 24-months-old is very low. I know a lot of farmers do not like calving heifers at 2 years of age but again, this is an area that I think we will be asked to improve on in the future.
- AI usage– Lastly AI usage is at 16% for the last 12 months in the suckler herd. The reality is that it needs to improve the quality of our herd, but practically this is very hard.