Suckler cow future?


With the current anti meat eating campaign, proposed meat tax and the loss of bps introduction of elmsleaning more to greener crops is their a future for profitable suckler cows In the uk?
Wrote this on another thread not that long ago.
I don't keep many cows (27 calved last year 38 this year) but they've surprised me how much they have left behind the last couple of years. But...
Sheep are the main enterprise here so the cows aren't stocked that heavily on the place. They spend most of the year grazing behind the sheep eating what they leave behind. So native bred cattle that do well on poor forage are essential to that. Occasionally they will get a real treat and get to eat grass that's got too long for sheep (think standing hay) and they will be made to eat it to the ground. They are my toppers and fertilizer spreaders. I keep them more than anything to improve the place for the sheep. You can grow some great lamb finishing feed behind cows if you do that with them.
They calve outside in April and may and will be weaned next week. The calves will come in and the cows will go back out cleaning up behind the sheep on their tupping rotation and get some hay rolled out as and when they need it and then shut on one of my dryest fields behind electric wire giving them a strip of deferred grass and hay to keep them full. They probably won't make the whole winter like that but last year they made it till mid February and were back out onto a rested field to calve at the end of march. That saves a small fortune.
Cows are all Angus crosses from my old limousine cows and some Hereford crosses out of them. The limos I have left aren't really hardy enough for the job and are always late getting in calf and are lean. They won't be going to the bull again.
The calves will be wintered on hay this year, silage if I have some but wrapping soon adds up when you count everything ££££ but they will get a couple of kilos of rearer nut to keep them ticking over. I've sown some red clover this summer so this winter will be the last year they get cake they'll be getting red clover silage from next year. This year they were out grazing again at the end of February for a bit running back to the shed they more or less stopped eating the silage then. They were grazing fields rested since early/mid November.
They are then run with the sheep or grazing behind them depending on where they are on the farm (a lot of fields here I can't put cattle in) and will come in about now to hopefully be finished over their second winter or by the spring. I'm going to try and turn some out to finish at grass next spring though. If I have grass for them in march wish me luck 😬 heifers that aren't with calves will finish at grass by mid summer usually 25-27 months.
Hopefully red clover will help me finish steers quicker and they will be bigger after their first winter as well.
Finishing them is much much easier, and cheaper, than it was finishing continental cattle. 350-380kg carcasses usually bit I have had 400kg and more sometimes. o+ to R+ they usually grade depending where they go. Habe had the off U though. I could probably be better at finishing them and maxing them out in the grids but I'm not clever enough. They aren't market toppers but they get there for very little money.
I don't think what I do would work if I sold them as stores. Especially off the cow because they are pretty crap as calves to be honest. My average weaning weight is about 240kg but they really look like small and hairy natives and it doesn't do them any favours in October November 🙈
TB is another reason I finish them as well.
Took this today. Can see some of the calves in their deferred grass and some hay rolled out. More to teach them what hay is before weaning than anything but is a help to slow their grazing rotation down as well.
View attachment 994532
Some of the cows
View attachment 994533

I think I'd like to keep more cows like this now they are profitable again. They're easy to keep and are great for improving the farm but I don't know how many more I could keep as cheap as this. And I'd probably need more buildings and that's not happening. Hopefully I can finish some stores much faster with red clover and could use their shed when they've gone. I need to be better at deferring more grass as well but this is only my second year doing it so needs some confidence to do it right. Still learning.


North Somerset.
I totally understand where it suits your system with sheep , but looking towards the future of eating less meat will it be worth it
Check the current prime stock and cull prices and discounted vegan meat substitute stock on the shelves in your local supermarket. There is no sign that the eat less meat message is getting through to the people that matter, Joe Public.


I totally understand where it suits your system with sheep , but looking towards the future of eating less meat will it be worth it
Well we won’t know until people actually start eating less meat will we? The demand is well up at the moment so while I’m not massively expanding the suckler herd, I’m not shrinking it either
My dilemma is I have 30 cows all calves through to fat , I was thinking of calling it a day with them or do I increase them to 60 + cows but means new sheds etc is it too risky at this moment in time. Where my cow shed is at the moment I have plans for a diversification project.

Bill dog

Mixed Farmer
Scottish Borders
Only you can answer that question. Don’t listen to feckers like Monbiot, any journalist, any politician , or any clap trap rippling out of cop26.
If you like cows, appreciate the muck/slurry, and can justify keeping them, carry on.
If not, change !
I had sucklers, needed to use the shed for more than 5 months, so now do full time b n b pigs.
Do I miss the cows, yes. But pigs work better in my situation!👍
Until it becomes government directive to cut meat consumption it appears people will vote with their stomachs and keep eating meat. Cows producing calves at £900-1200 are leaving a decent margin for the time being. The issue will come when environmental payments will lead more towards destocking and lower stocking rates, which has already begun. Whether the public want to eat meat or not the government will make it harder to supply it from our end imo.

Kiwi Pete

Livestock Farmer
With the current anti meat eating campaign, proposed meat tax and the loss of bps introduction of elmsleaning more to greener crops is their a future for profitable suckler cows In the uk?
I think so - there's just not much of a future for the unprofitable ones.

The anti meat thing is pure bumf, and people are seeing now just how much bumf they're being fed by the usual media sources, how much they're being hoodwinked. So really the main losers are the various half-baked reporters and editors who allow this drivel to make it into the public arena

have faith in what cows can do - top grass behind sheep, spit out a calf, get fat in summer and melt in winter.
I think a bare-bones approach means most cattle can be profitable, but look closely at what of the calf revenue is spent, and what on
We started with a small suckler herd of pure Sussex cattle, due mainly to the additional payments of the NBAR (National Breed At Risk) on CS.

However we have found them to be profitable, but the main reason is that they stay outside, except for a short time over calving.
We started with 12 and this year will calve 40 and hope to get up to 60 or even a few more but would have to think about Autumn calving as well if we did so there might be some housing costs.

We are also lucky in that at the moment all of these we finish ourselves on grass with a small amount of concentrate at this time of the year and sell to local outlets.

We are however keeping these to close to 30 months as we have plenty of poor and cheap winter grazing and loads of Hay.


Do what your head and gut think is right. Totally ignore the tripe being spouted by politicians and journalists. They both think in very short wavelengths. We’ll still be here long after they’ve been disgraced/proven wrong/voted out. 👍👍
I havnt bothered to listen to this cop thing.
They dont wind me up, i see folk on facebook getting worked up about it, thers no point, people will still want and need to eat.

Latest Poll on TFF

  • Yes

    Votes: 22 14.9%
  • No

    Votes: 126 85.1%

JCB launches Fastrac ‘iCon’

  • 159
  • 0
Written by Charlotte Cunningham from CPM Magazine

JCB has launched new Fastrac 4000 and 8000 Series tractors with an all-new electronics infrastructure which is claimed to deliver higher levels of performance. According to JCB, the new Fastrac iCon operator environment has three key features: iConfigure – creating a bespoke control experience for every operator iConnect – integrating advanced precision agriculture technology iControl – redefining operation through new driveline software The 175hp to 348hp (133kW to 260kW) Fastracs feature the new iCon armrest console and touch-screen display to provide flexibility in operator allocation and operator information, as well as a new transmission control strategy to enhance operator comfort and powertrain efficiency, says the manufacturer...