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Herd fertility made easy

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Getting more cows in calf is the biggest improvement you can make to your dairy business.

What does profitable dairying mean to you? Each farm owner, manager or sharemilker will answer this question differently: milk solids in the vat, cows in calf, high-value progeny, longevity, cull value, easy-manage cows and more.

The defining point on this list is that every farm is different and each farmer has individual goals and aspirations. One size does not fit all. What all these aims have in common is, to achieve any you need to get your cows in calf.

A number of elements contribute to getting cows in calf as identified in DairyNZ’s InCalf programme, run with consultants and agricultural organisations including CRV AmBreed. These include calving pattern, heifer management, body condition score and nutrition, dealing with non-cyclers, genetics and AB practices, bull management and cow health.

CRV AmBreed offers resources and experience in breeding and mating management to help you and your staff improve whole-herd fertility from birth, right though their productive lives.

Genetics, in particular the right sires to achieve breeding objectives, is a key element in getting cows in calf. Getting the right bull for the job doesn’t have to be difficult – breeding advice programmes such as CRV AmBreed’s SireMatch make it easy and effective.

“We recognise every farmer has different goals and needs,” says CRV AmBreed product manager Angela Entwisle.

“SireMatch takes this into account, turning the farmer’s breeding goals into practical sire advice, with recommendations from simple inbreeding prevention to customised cow-by-cow improvements.”

But before mating cows, you need to correctly and consistently pick those on heat. And if heat detection isn’t up to scratch your cows won’t get in calf. Dairy NZ says the best heat detection programmes, before and during mating, combine planning and observation with effective heat detection aids.

Tail paint has been a good standby, but today farmers have better detection aids to make the job easy and accurate. “CRV’s ESTROTECT™ Breeding Indicators remove a lot of the uncertainty, even for farms with large herds and multiple staff,” Entwisle says.

“Unlike tailpaint, ESTROTECT™ isn’t affected by inconsistencies in application and is much clearer to read, especially from a distance or in poor light. We recommend ESTROTECT™ Breeding Indicators are applied in time for pre-mating heats and right through mating.

“As cows come on heat and are recorded, a different colour ESTROTECT™ is applied making it obvious which cows have not cycled and need to be referred to a vet for further investigation to stay within a concentrated calving pattern.”

Finally, you’ll want to make sure those straws hit the spot. “Artificial insemination is something CRV AmBreed knows all about,” says Entwisle.

“We inseminate close to half a million cows each year and have trained 10,000 dairy farmers to inseminate their cows at out AI training schools.”

What seems like a tall order in a volatile season will yield measurable improvement in future seasons, leading to improvements in the herd as culling decisions are made under production, conformation and management objectives rather than fertility and even some immediate production results – a side-effect of more active management practices.

– Source: Dairy News
– Date: April 18, 2011
– Link:–244/31
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