Why is it measured?

Mortality rates vary between different age groups of cattle within one farm and also between farms. High levels of mortality are not only often associated with suffering but also represent a significant economic loss to the farmer. AHDB Beef & Lamb report that more profitable beef farms have lower levels of mortality. Higher levels of calf and pre-weaning mortality can be due to a range of factors from difficult calving and poor colostrum intake in very young calves to sub-optimal housing conditions allowing disease challenge namely scours or pneumonia in older calves. The most common cause of death in older fattening cattle is respiratory disease but they may also succumb to other diseases or suffer accidental death. Adult suckler cows most commonly die as a result of clostridial disease, followed by Johne’s disease.

How to assess and score using the AssureWel measure

 8. Mortality                                                                                                                                                                           Records
Record mortality over the previous 12 months for the following groups (refer to the Red Tractor Annual Health and Performance Review sheet if available):
   Tally Comments
 Stillborn – 24 hours                                
 24 hours - 10 days
 10 days - weaning
 Weaning – first calving /point of sale    
 Less than 30 months    
 30 months +
 Record the number of cows (including heifers put to the bull), unweaned animals, weaned animals and breeding bulls on the farm over the previous 12 months. This may need to be an average if animals have been bought and sold over that time.

Record the average weaning age.

  1. Lameness
  2. Cleanliness
  3. Body Condition Score (adult cattle only)
  4. Hairloss, lesions and swellings
  5. Animals with respiratory signs
  6. Cattle needing further care
  7. Disbudding, dehorning and castration
  8. Mortality



Making improvements

  • Links to resources all aimed at improving the welfare of beef cattle
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