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Get The Most From Your Beef & Sheep This Year

 Advice on getting the most out of your beef and sheep this year

Advice on Improving Returns on Beef & Sheep

Get the best out of your animals this year with some useful advice from our experts.


The New Year is a great opportunity to reflect on the preceding months and plan for the year ahead. The Mole Valley Feed Solutions team give their thoughts on some New Year’s resolutions for livestock farmers.


Whether you’re a beef, sheep or dairy producer, monitoring and understanding costs will be crucial in maximising efficiencies and protecting yourself against market volatility in the year ahead.  MVF Senior Nutritionist, Dr Robin Hawkey suggests trying to get a handle on costs, and particularly variable costs, which are more in your control.


Sit down and work out your top five bills a month and identify where you can make cuts. On a dairy farm for example, you can quite simply work out variable costs per litre,” he says. “Multiplying your monthly labour cost by 12 and dividing by the total number of litres produced in a year will allow you to work out labour costs per litre. In terms of costs of production, all beef and sheep producers should also have a handle on their costs per kilo produced. Also, work with your farm team to set clear targets and objectives for the year ahead. If you want to lower cost of production, think about what tweaks you can implement now and how you are going to do it. The key is to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate”.


Planning spring and summer cropping with next winter’s feeding in mind can also be hugely valuable. Look at current circumstances and see if you need to change strategies - do you need more maize silage or could you make more grass silage for example?



Kenny McDonald and Adam May from the Red Meat Team, suggest the following resolutions for beef and sheep producers:


Learn about Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) 

Selecting high genetic merit sires using EBVs will help you boost feed conversion efficiencies and performance. Take the time to learn about EBVs and how you can select sires to drive your farm’s breeding aims.


Improving foot health 

Lame animals won’t perform as well. Think about how you can control and cut down lameness by improving foot health and preventing speed of infection. Footbathing sheep twice a year is recommended.


Think about your end market 

Understand what your market requires and consider how and where you are marketing animals. Be flexible as to whether you sell live or dead weight. Choice will depend on individual farms and the year.



Whether it’s weighing cattle or testing silage quality, monitoring is crucial to ensure efficient production. Start by calculating how much silage you have and analysing it to establish exactly what you’ve got. You can then use this as a base to which to match the appropriate concentrate. Aim to weigh beef cattle monthly to track performance.


Secure a feed contract 

If you haven’t done so already, secure a feed contract and put together an appropriate feeding programme for ewes. By planning appropriate ewe nutrition you can maximise lamb survival.


Plan ahead to lambing 

Preparation is key before lambing kicks into gear. Reflect on last year and establish where you could make improvements. Make sure sheds are fully disinfected and you have all the appropriate kit ordered in advance.


Source Details

Newsletter 608, Kenny McDonald & Adam May

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