It has been a long winter for many suckler farmers and, unfortunately, weather conditions are hindering the chances to return cattle to grass to ease the workload.

Cashflow is also tight on farms, with inputs such as meal, silage and straw absorbing a lot of working capital.

One positive trend within the beef trend is prices in the live ring, which continue to provide strong returns for good-quality cattle.

Where cashflow is under pressure or stocking density in sheds exceeds capacity, outlined are five different cattle groups to consider selling in the weeks ahead.

1. Forward and short-keep stores

Although beef prices have hardened, they currently fall well below the costs incurred when finishing cattle.

Therefore, consider offloading strong stores now to generate cashflow for other inputs, such as fertiliser for first-cut silage.

Good-quality stores over 600kg are regularly making €3/kg to €3.20/kg, which at a kill-out of 57% would equate to a beef price above €5.60/kg before finishing costs apply.

2. Target lighter stores for grass buyers

Lighter and mid-weight stores are usually in demand over April, as buyers enter the market to source animals for grazing, creating competition and underpinning prices.

Heifers weighing 400kg to 450kg are ideally suited to this market, as they have greater potential to finish off grass in autumn or out of the shed by the end of the year. But steers are also highly saleable and an option for sale.

3. Barren and problem autumn cows

Autumn cows should be settled in-calf by now. If not, single these animals out and either sell with a calf at foot or wean early and offload the cow through the cull ring.

Cows that are repeat offenders in terms of rearing a poor calf should also be offloaded rather than competing for grass with more productive animals.

4. Late-calving spring cows

For a mid-February- to mid-April-calving suckler herd, the handful of cows that run late into May or June are a pain, as they are out of sync with everything in terms of management tasks.

While these cows may be fine in terms of visual quality, milk and general functionality, this may be the spring to offload to another herd owner where they fit the calving pattern better.

The best option is to sell now as in-calf animals. Once these cows calve, the temptation to keep them one more year usually gets the better of farmers.

5. Spring-calving cows that lose a calf

If a cow loses her calf during labour and there is the option to foster a twin born in the herd, then give it a go.

But if a twin is not available, cows that lose a calf are better off cashed in on, as cull cows are returning good money.

Normally, only a handful of cows lose a calf. Selling these animals is unlikely to alter herd numbers too much and it is usually a more cost-effective option than buying in calves to foster.

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