On suckler farms where cows predominantly calve during February, March and April, chances are that cows will now be settled in calf.

Where there is little sign of breeding activity, or the goal is to tighten up the calving pattern, then give thought to removing the stock bull from cows now.

Late-calving cows are always a pain to manage as they are out of sync with the rest of the herd.

Removing the bull this weekend should see all cows finished calving by mid-May, based on a 285-day gestation period.

Farmers often fear taking the stock bull away from cows, thinking there will be a high empty rate. If there is a high number of cows not in-calf, this will be clear to see from the level of breeding activity.

The reality is that after 12 weeks of breeding, there will only be one or two cows not in-calf. These cows are likely to have naturally poor fertility and may not go back in calf should the bull run for another month.

Removing the bull by this weekend means cows can be scanned in mid-September. Any barren cows can be culled, freeing up grass during autumn and improving cashflow.

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