ICBF recently released this year’s calving statistics report. While beef farmers are making progress in terms of breeding efficiency, it’s been painfully slow and a lot more progress should have been made in recent years.

Calving interval is still running at 395 days, a full 30 days behind where it should be.

Calves per cow per year, another key driver of profitability, has bobbed around .86 calves per cow per year. It was at .87 calves per cow per year in 2012. The target of .95 calves per cow per year seems a long way off and the fact that this figure hasn’t changed in the last 10 years, even with the benefits of the BDGP, makes you wonder will it ever be achieved. Calving at two years old is another nut that the industry has failed to crack, with just 23% of heifers calving between 22-24 months in the Irish suckler herd.

This figure hasn’t changed a lot in the last 10 years. We can blame ICBF, AI stations and pedigree breeders for not enough progress, but a certain amount of responsibility must lie with the management of herds.

As part of this week’s breeding focus, Kieran Mailey compares a stock bull to AI in terms of management and costs. AI may seem expensive, but its options especially in an autumn calving situation, can bring added value to a breeding operation.

Declan Marren takes a look at nutrition in autumn-calving cows and the importance of maintaining body condition score after calving to achieve high conception rates in autumn-calving herds. Finally, we take a look at the upcoming BDGP deadline and what farmers need to do to guarantee this year’s payment.