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Calving beef heifers at 24 months

Research undertaken by Paul Crossnon, Teagasc Grange, shows that delaying calving from 24 months up to 31-32-months, costs approximately €490 or €50/heifer/month.

Only 22% of beef heifers calve at 22-26 months; however, this figure has hovered between 17-27% over the ten years, according to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF).

Aidan Murray, Teagasc beef specialist joined Catherine Egan on The Beef Edge to discuss the practice and targets that farmers should strive to achieve.

He highlighted that breeding females that calve down at 24-months are more productive over their lifetime and may have better fertility than heifers that calve down when older.

He pointed out other advantages including fewer groupings of stock on-farm, with animals coming into production a lot quicker, potential increases in genetic gain and reduced cost.

Selecting replacements heifers:

  • Genetics – Target the heifer calves out of your best cows;
  • Visually assess the heifer as she grows as a weanling, yearling and before breeding;
  • Select functional females, with good feet, docile and have a good temperament;
  • Analyse the heifer’s performance – weight for age targets and growth rates;
  • Review a heifer’s €uro-star report – main and sub-indexes;
  • Match sires accordingly when breeding.

Key targets:

  • Heifers should be gaining at least 1.1kgs/day up to weaning with a weaning weight of 280-320kgs;
  • First winter – Gaining 0.6kgs/day;
  • Should be approximately 60% of their mature weight when bred at 15-months and 80% of their mature weight when calved.

Tips to achieve 24-month-old calving:

  • Identify your replacements early;
  • Feed appropriately over the first winter;
  • 60% of mature weight at bulling;
  • Calving ease of sire used;
  • Pre- and post-calving care.
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