The appeal of calves raised on their mothers' milk and on grass during the best months of the year is a crucial aspect of the Brecon and Radnor Suckled Calf Rearers' reputation for quality.
And a farm walk at the home of Chairman David Thomas underlined that breeding efficiencies are vital to achieve the right calving pattern.
Arwel Owen of Genus ABS outlined to members the pitfalls and challenges of getting cows back in calf in a tight pattern. He said a target of 85% calving in the first six weeks was realistic.
David Thomas who farms at Penwern Farm near Brecon said he was determined to improve his own calving pattern. Those calves born outside the first six weeks calving period would not be big enough for the Brecon and Radnor autumn sales.
He added: "The meeting has made me analyse my own calving pattern where 74% of cows bulled, calved in the first six weeks for the 2010 season, when calving started on the 10th of March.
"My May and June born calves will not be big enough for the Brecon and Radnor October sales. I want to maximise calf growth from grass and, after weaning, keep dry cows on a low cost system through the winter.
"Arwel has certainly made me think about what I can do to improve the percentage calving early in the season and it's good to have a target of 85% calving in the first six weeks which Arwel thinks is realistic."
David Thomas outlined to members his strategy of breeding mainly Limousin cross cows in the 70 cow herd to homebred high EBV Charolais bulls. The objective is to calve in March and April so that the calves are big enough to utilise grass as well as their mother's milk during the best grazing months of the year.
He showed members a kale crop used for outwintering cows and discussed winter management on the farm. Since he has begun outwintering, suckled calf sale weights have improved as cows go back outdoors soon after calving.
Brecon and Radnor Suckled Calf Rearers have many regular buyers and David Thomas said the quality entry of stock entered at the sales in October on 19th at Sennybridge and 26th at Knighton had never been better. People know that if they buy from these sales then they will have the conformation and the growth potential they require Last year's steer calves weighed an average of 360 kg at nine months of age at the Sennybridge sale and 320 kg at seven months at Knighton.
David Thomas farms three hundred and fifty acres just outside Brecon with his wife Julie, a primary school teacher, and their three children 15 year old Isabel, 13 year old Frances and 10 year old Huw. The land rises from 400 feet to 850 feet and they run 500 Welsh Mule and Texel ewes as well as the 70 Limousin Cross suckler cows, bred to a Charolais bulls.
More information is available on the BRSCR website.
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