Monitoring performance at key times throughout the system means periods of underperformance can be identified and dealt with at the earliest possible time.
While it may not be able to be rectified for this batch of stock, you will know for the next year where you went wrong and what to do to improve.
In this system, cattle are weighed at least the following times: at weaning, mid-season at grass, at housing, mid-winter, at turnout to grass, mid-season in the second grazing and then more regularly as animals come close to slaughter. In total, stock will be weighed between six and eight times.
While this sounds like a lot of work, most of the weighing can coincide with other routine work that involves stock going through the crush anyway.
Average daily gain for the first season at grass should be 0.85kg/day. However, most farmers don’t weight calves at weaning and, therefore, over-estimate weaning weight which skews average daily gain over the entire first season at grass.
In the Thrive blueprint, there is a target housing weight for the first winter in early November of 260kg for bullocks and 240kg for heifers. This is for mid-March-born calves.
Where your calves’ date of birth is after mid-March, take 5kg liveweight a week off expected housing weight.
Over the first winter is where a lot of stock will fall behind target and fail to reach a suitable slaughter age at the end of the second grazing season.
With excellent grassland management you would expect super performance in the second grazing season.
However, over the last three years on the demonstration farm, on a grass-only diet from turnout until early August, bullocks have averaged 1.05kg/day with heifers at 0.92kg/day.
From early August, the most forward of stock will start to receive a low level of concentrate feeding at pasture.
There will be regular drafting every 10 days to two weeks during the height of the finishing season.
In 2021, the average draft weight for heifers was 521kg while for the bullocks it was 597kg. It resulted in an average carcase weight of 268kg and 309kg for heifers and bullocks, respectively.