The year of the beef cow

By Gary Coleman

After a terrific summer with exceptional grass growth this season will go down in history as the year of the beef cow.

Although there's been too much rain and not enough sunshine for many, the beef cow is the best  animal to clean up excess grass growth. This year there's still a lot of cleaning up to do.

After successive droughts hitting the east coast of the North Island, the beef cow numbers have been in steady decline for several years as farmers struggle to provide sufficient feed. There's approximately 15 percent less stock on the East Coast, both beef and sheep, than a few years ago and therefore a shortage of beef cows on the East Coast.

Replacements have come from the dairy industry using beef bulls over dairy cows but that's not such a popular option as pure beef stock. There's quite good demand for cows and in-calf heifers at sales that will be able to join the beef herd.

This has led to a significant shortage of steers and heifers for prime beef finishing. Cows and heifers are now in demand for rebuilding, but will be too late to control feed, but are available for the big clean up job on a many farms this winter.

The Dannevirke vets say cows and heifers are in the best condition in five years with weight gains bringing them up to where they should be this year.

With 6-7 per cent empty this year compared to 14 per cent last year, things are looking good for a good lift in cow profitability next year. No doubt this will be the same throughout Hawke's Bay?

This autumn the B+LNZ Farmer Councils ran a series of workshops throughout the country, including

Hawke's Bay, called "Better Bull Buying Decisions."

Participants heard how to interpret and use genetic information when making their next bull purchasing

decision, simplifying bull selection with selection indexes and sourcing bulls on the internet.

B+LNZ continue to invest in beef cow efficiency trials at Massey University. This is in response to farmer demand and will help lift cow efficiency and profitability in the future. Much research is being done on comparing smaller cows that eat less grass yet still produce a calf of an acceptable size.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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