Feeding suckler cows and calves

Achieving better returns from a suckler herd depends on increasing the number of calves weaned from the cows and heifers that are mated.

Nutrition, health and good management drive fertility. Feeding makes a particularly important contribution to fertility, calving ease and calf performance.

Feed is a major cost of keeping a suckler cow. Careful management of body condition is vital to allow cows to utilise cheaper, grazed grass and other home-grown feeds, when available, without compromising performance during the rest of the season.

This manual looks at all the production stages of suckled calf production, from managing heifers and first calvers, to mature cows and the bull, up to weaning the calf and finishing cull animals. There are many different suckler cow systems in England, with different breeds and calving at different times.

But, by following the principles set out in this manual, beef farmers pursuing any system can feed their animals in a way that will produce better returns.