Maternal Matters

The AHDB Maternal Matters campaign aims to highlight the connection between maternal performance and profitability in the suckler herd.

The campaign focuses on two key areas of maternal performance:

  • age at first calving
  • fertility

The two-year campaign which started in September 2021 provides case studies and information on replacement heifer breeding and development to optimise female lifetime fertility. AHDB's Beef & Lamb engagement team leading the project speak to a range of experts to identify ways to optimise heifer development practices, from selecting stock to breed replacements through to the management of first calvers. 

Further resources

Stage one - profitability and key performance indicators

Stage one of the Maternal Matters camapign gives an introduction to why maternal traits matter, profit drivers of the suckler herd including KPIs and the benefits of calving heifers at two years old. The videos below explain more about the key areas to focus on.

Stage two - selecting the right maternal traits

The second stage of AHDB's Maternal Matters campaign focuses on the significance of selecting the right maternal traits when breeding replacement heifers, which can be done through selecting the right bulls and using breeding technologies. It also covers in more detail how to successfully calve heifers at two years of age and the financial benefits of doing so. 

Stage three - developing heifer nutrition

Stage three of Maternal Matters is all about developing the health status of the young heifers through adequate nutrition, breeding vaccination policies and beef health schemes. Appropriate management of heifers from a young age will influence whether or not they are ready and mature enough to conceive and to successfully calve at two, so getting these factors right is crucial.

Stage four - pregnancy management of heifers

Stage four of Maternal Matters focuses on the management of heifers during the pregnancy stage including three key areas; nutrition, housing and minimising stress. Nutrition and Body Condition Scoring (BCS) play a big role throughout and we look at research from Dr Kenny Rutherford, a scientist at SRUC, on managing cows during pregnancy to improve calf health, welfare and performance and how early years nutrition can impact their development.

Stage five - safe calving and good hygeine

Stage five of Maternal Matters is the final stage of the heifers breeding cycle – calving. This stage focuses on managing heifers at calving, ensuring good hygiene and highlighting the importance of colostrum management.