Margins in suckling can be extremely tight and 2016 was no different. With an increased kill forecast for 2017, it is very important that efficiency is to the fore on our beef farms.

With competition from dairy beef fast coming down the track, the suckler cow is under threat and unless beef prices improve, Irish suckler cow numbers will dwindle and a once renowned industry will pale into insignificance. A price increase should not be the only route to increase margins though.

In our Focus this week, Ciarán Lenehan looks at the important post-calving period and how to get nutrition right during that time. This is a critical period and for every day that cows go over the 365 calving target, it costs an extra €2.20/cow/day to the system.

We also look at BDGP targets and how to hit them over the coming months. The first deadline for this programme comes in 2018 when 20% of females over 16 months must be genotyped four- or five-star, so it is important to plan ahead to make sure you hit the targets.

Kieran Mailey reports from Scotland on our new joint programme with ANC marts in Scotland. This programme, which is similar to the Teagasc/Irish Farmers Journal BETTER farm beef programme, will follow six farmers and their development over the next three years.

We talk to a west Cavan-based vet about some tips for calving and the correct use of the calving jack.

Darren Carty reports on the Newford Herd in Athenry, where all of the 2015-born progeny have just been slaughtered. He also looks at weanling performance and how the farm is dealing with a fodder shortage.

Meanwhile, the BETTER Farm programme is entering its third phase. Find out more in our video below: