Suckler producers should take advantage of the strong cull cow trade and concentrate more on breeding from a younger, more productive herd with easier fleshing characteristics.

According to Robert Gilchrist, chief executive of the Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society, fertility is what drives profit margins in beef herds, therefore producers should be concentrating more on maternal traits.

The UK suckler herd currently has an average calving interval of 445 days. However, the ambition should be to have suckler cows that calve unassisted every 365 days, with easy fleshing characteristics, Mr Gilchrist said with Estimated Breeding Values (EBV’s) able to help farmers push their herd forwards by selecting replacements that help them hit these targets.

"Selecting replacement heifers with the right traits in the first instance will help farmers build a herd on solid foundations," he said adding that heifers from cows conceived in the first or second cycle are more likely to have better fertility.

Calving ease daughters is another trait that can be used to identify how easily a sire’s daughters will calve at two-years old – an industry target not always achieved.

Mr Gilchrist added: “Overall, easy calving cows are better able to recover, and get back in calf again, tightening the calving interval. Empty days cost money, that’s why it’s so important to get the calving interval down to the target 365. For every difficult calving, you're likely to lose at least one cycle (21 days) which can cost you as a minimum £21 in keep."

Producers should also factor in the 21 days lost calf production and the knock-on effect for the next breeding season.

Read more: Dairy herds show continued health and fertility improvement

"At an average DLWG of 1.2kg per day you could have a 25kg lighter calf in 12 months’ time, losing around £60 per head in calf value. Protracted calving periods and calving difficulties are also more expensive in losses, labour and vet costs.”

Farmers can also switch their management to tighten calving patterns.

"Feeding the highest quality grass and driving a rising plane of nutrition into bulling, will ensure cows are at prime body condition for going back to the bull.

"Good quality spring grass is more than adequate to achieve the desired body condition for an easy fleshing animal which again you can select for.

“Now is not the time to reduce numbers, but instead think about the role genetics play in building a beef herd fit for the future, so you know you can hit performance targets and produce beef the consumer wants.

"Ultimately, you can’t outperform genetics, decisions you make now will affect your herd for years to come as they get passed to future generations."