Suckler Herd Fertility

Good fertility results in more kg of beef sold per cow per year by minimising the number of barren cows and mazimising the number of cows calving early in the calving period so that calves are heavier at weaning. See the QMS pubilcation 'Improving suckler herd fertility' which is recommended reading for those interested in maximising their herd's fertility.

Targets for Suckler Herd Fertility

These targets may appear high but some farmers are consistently achieving these levels of performance.

  • Calvings per cow and heifer put to the bull - 95%
  • Barren cows - 5% or less
    Cows calving in first 3 weeks - 65%
  • Bulling periods - 9 weeks for cows and 6 weeks for heifers
  • Calf mortality birth to weaning - <2%
  • Calves reared - 94% (calves reared to cows and heifers bulled)
  • Adult cows with difficult calvings <5%
  • Replacement rate <15% (from QMS publication 'Improving sucklet herd fertility')

You can assess your own herd's performance by completing the fertility assessment form.


The Five Key Management Areas to Focus on to Achieve Good Fertility in the Suckler Herd

  1. Management of bulling heifers
  2. Bulls - soundness and fertility
  3. Managing cow condition and nutrition
  4. Avoiding difficult calvings
  5. Maintaining herd health (BVD, Lepto etc)


The suckler herd fertility services on offer from the practice are shown below. Of particular note that the practice is now offering bull breeding soundness examination which involves a full physical examination, semen collection by electro-ejaculation and semen assessment (See Bull Breeding Soundness Examination). Remember that around 20% of bulls are subfertile and identifying these by routinely screening the bull stud pre-breeding is one essential part of maintaining good herd fertililty.


Suckler Herd Ferility Services Available from MBM

  • Bull breeding soundess examination (BSE). Semen collection by electroejaculation or, if required, by artificial vagina
  • Data analysis/bench making
  • Heifer rearing
    - Parasite control & Pneumonia prevention etc
  • Infectious disease control (BVD/Lepto etc)
  • Pregnancy diagnosis (manual/scanning)