Profitability is greatest where the calving date for suckler cows is aligned with the commencement of the grazing season, said Teagasc researcher Paul Crosson at the recent Teagasc National Beef Conference.
He said a net margin per hectare of €454 can be achieved in suckler calf-to-beef production, where there is a long grazing season of 243 days. If the season is short, at just 178 days, the margin falls to €185.
John Kelly, a suckler farmer from Co Longford, outlined how he produces 0.96 live calves per cows per year, compared to the national average of 0.79. He said: “This means that, if I calve 100 cows, I will have 96 live calves to sell versus 79 calves. This is a difference of 17 weanlings to sell each year, which at an average value of €850 per weanling is equal to €14,450.”
Suckler farmer Margaret Lehane from Co Cork outlined management practices she has implemented to consistently calve all of her replacement heifers at 24 months. “There is a very strong advantage to calving down heifers at two years of age. Looking at my own profit monitor last year, I achieved a gross margin of €1,056 per hectare. I had 73 cows calving and had 72 sales, with an average value of €1,647.
“If I calved my heifers at three years of age instead of two years, I would only be able to carry 65 cows, which would mean a loss of output worth €13,176.”
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