BEEF SUCKLER - Improving conception rates with Super Suckler
17 Jan 2018
The Smith family run Towiemore farm in Keith. The business is managed by brothers Colin and Graham, along with Graham’s two sons Ryan and Lewis, both of whom have studied at SRUC. Colin and Graham are second generation farmers and since taking over the business they have acquired farms nearby to make up the 500 acre unit they run today. Their herd comprises of 40 suckler cows along with 180 Simmental cross and black Limousin heifers. In addition, they have 1,300 ewes and Lewis manages a small number of pedigree sheep. He is currently in his third year of flushing embryos to produce pure Black Faced Sheep.
The farm buy their heifers, two thirds of which calve in the spring and are then sold in May with calf at foot. The remainder calve in the summer and are sold in September. Their heifers command a good following, with an unparalleled reputation at their local mart, Thainstone, where they have claimed Overall Champion for the last four years. Thainstone is also where they sell their previous year’s autumn calves. The calves from their suckler herd are taken through to finishing on Harbro Champion Rumitech 35 alongside home grown barley.
Peter Oag, beef specialist at Harbro first introduced Super Suckler to the ration last winter to help with retained cleansing after a mineral test had revealed deficiencies in selenium, copper and zinc. Super Suckler was fed during the winter with immediate effects seen that spring with not one heifer retaining a cleanse and 100% of cows cleansing within 2-3 hours. This keeps infection at bay and allows the cow to be back into calf quicker.
One of the active ingredients within the mineral that is making a difference is Sel-Plex, an organic selenium enriched yeast which is better absorbed, stored and utilised by the body than inorganic selenium. This results in more vitamin E being absorbed, enabling the cell wall to be re-built following birth and helping the muscles contract to release the afterbirth.
Super Suckler has also had a positive impact on fertility with conception rates showing improvements within a short period after feeding.
Looking forward, the Smiths are also considering introducing bull fertility minerals to improve performance on the bull side, which should enable them to tighten up the calving period even more. They are already closely monitoring bull performance, which includes semen testing as well as scanning cows at six weeks after being served to the bull. To ensure conception levels are high, there are always plenty of bulls available with the Smiths usually buying a new one each year. As well as increasing fertility and the recovery period in preparation for the next service, the product is also saving the Smiths money as the heifers require less energy and fewer vaccinations are required due to improved cleansing.