Maternal Matters: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for maternal suckler traits

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are a useful way to monitor fertility within your suckler herd.  

Why is it important to monitor maternal traits?

Maternal traits, or fertility, is one of the key drivers of profitability within the suckler herd. It is extremely difficult to understand fertility without monitoring it.

Tracking herd performance will help you identify:

  • Superior cows (the ones from which you should be breeding your heifer replacements)
  • Poor performing females who need to be culled from the herd
  • Any potential health issues

Once you have identified the weaknesses, you must continue to monitor performance, to understand the impact the changes have had on fertility and cow performance.

How to monitor maternal traits

Monitoring maternal traits can be tricky without good records. Use the herd notebook or computer software packages to record the:

  • Number of females put to the bull and PD results
  • Calving dates and reasons for any calf losses
  • Cows leaving the herd and the reasons why
  • Weights of cows and calves at weaning
  • Age heifers are calving for the first time

This information can then be used to calculate KPIs.

KPIs are measurable values that help explain the health of the business. They are used across many other industries, not just agriculture, helping to identify potential areas for improvement.

The most effective KPIs to calculate to better understand maternal traits are:

  • Cows and heifers calved in the first six weeks of the calving period.
  • Calves born alive, as a % of females put to the bull.
  • Calves weaned, as a % of cows put to the bull.
  • Age at first calving.
  • Herd replacement rate.

Use the KPI Express Calculator, part of the Farm Business Review tool, as this will also provide you with a benchmark for each value.