On suckler farms where cows calve during March and April, breeding usually gets under way towards the end of May.

Therefore now is the time to make a final call on maiden heifers that will be mated this year. Breeding weight is crucial to get heifers cycling and holding to service.

It is also a major factor in getting heifers fully developed, so they can cope with the demands of pregnancy, calving, producing milk and going back in-calf again next year.

The heavier the better

Heifers should weigh at least 60% of the average mature cow weight in the herd once breeding starts. But the heavier heifers are, the better.

If mature cows are typically 750kg, then heifers should weigh at least 450kg now. Any lighter and the chances of calving difficulty and not going back in-calf increase.

So over the next week, maiden heifers should be weighed to get an accurate handle on liveweight. Heifers below the target breeding weight should be removed from the group.

However, heifers that exhibit more extreme muscling in the hindquarters should be avoided, regardless if they meet target breeding weights.

These animals are also more likely to encounter greater problems at calving time next year, even when bred to easy calving sires.

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