It’s been a tough start to 2024 with turnout delayed on a lot of farms around the country. It would be foolish to think that the current weather conditions won’t have an impact on the 2024 breeding season.

On farms where good-quality silage is scarce and meal feeding hasn’t been at the level it should have been at, there will almost certainly be a delay to the resumption of cycling. This will be especially evident where body condition score has taken a hit.

All that can be done at this stage is to get cows out as soon as possible, but with ground conditions still not trafficable in many parts of the country, turnout could still be two to three weeks away.

Once turned out, cows should get preferential treatment with grass supplies, and sums would need to be completed on letting out forward cattle to compete with cows for grass supplies.

In this week’s beef breeding Focus, we take a look at some tips on buying a new stock bull.

There are a lot of different angles that need to be looked at with ICBF indexes being one of them.

Recent changes

The recent changes to the SCEP terms and conditions leave it a little harder to know what is SCEP-eligible and what’s not, so be sure to do your homework on what you’re buying before purchase.

Purchasing in time is also critical to have your new bull ready to work when you need him.

Chris Daly from ICBF goes through the top 25 bulls on both the replacement index and the terminal index and what each of the different sub-indexes are and how they should be interpreted.

Martin Merrick takes a look at some heat detection aids and the pros and cons of each on suckler farms.

Finally, I got to visit Jim Heery’s farm in Co Cavan last week. Jim is running a 180-cow suckler herd of Belgian Blue and Limousin cows breeding high-end weanlings for the export and home replacement market.

It was a breath of fresh air to talk to a man positive about suckling and the future of breeding top-quality cattle.