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Getting the plan right

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Sound planning and simple strategies will help dairy farmers achieve their objectives on calving patterns, and get good quality heifer replacements, says CRV AmBreed.

A common intervention strategy used to affect fertility is to synchronise non-cycling cows, but some myths persist about how this works and what a farmer can expect from the strategy, the company says.

“Trials with improved heat detection aids such as ESTROTECT™ Breeding Indicators demonstrate that more cows than previously thought show up on heat before fixed time insemination. This means that with synchronisation it still pays to monitor those treated animals and identify those cycling early.

“Intervention will not reduce empty rates but will get your cows into milk earlier…. If you are using intervention, you need to get your programme started early rather than waiting to identify non-cyclers during the mating period.

“Pre-mating heats are essential to ensure the cows that need to be treated can be programmed for fixed time insemination as close to start of mating as possible.”

Success or failure of an intervention programme will not be measured on empty rates but on the percentage of cows pregnant after six weeks of mating. Farmers need to work with their vet on these programmes, “but make sure your CRV AmBreed field consultant is aware of your plans so you have heat detectors on hand and your AI Technician is organised ahead of time,” the company suggests.

Cows that have a shorter gestation period will be in calf for less time and in milk for a longer time. It can be a useful strategy to condense calving, particularly if as a result of recent droughts you find your calving pattern is stretching out.

By measuring this trait in bulls we give farmers another tool to compact the calving period, giving cows a longer time to recover relative to the ideal mating period window.

This increases the chances of the cow getting back in calf to AI.

As a result of NZAEL’s work on developing a genetic evaluation of calving difficulty, they have now established gestation length as an official BV.

CRV AmBreed says it offers a good variety of bulls known to have shorter gestation length. Using short gestation sires is another tool in the mating management toolkit.

Make AI A Success:
– Ensure staff are competent in identifying bulling cows.
– Store strong chemicals away from the working area (i.e. xy12, chloride or lime).
– Farmer should fill out the mating docket book prior to the AI technician’s arrival.
– Provide a clean, sheltered area away from sunlight and rain for the technician to load pistolettes, especially if working in open cattle yards.
– No smoking around loading area or the technician.
– Farm personnel must attend while AI technician is working (an OSH requirement). AI tank should be protected from shed cleaning procedures and kept dry and cool
– Stand cows quietly while waiting for the technician. Don’t bring cows into the shed with motorbike or dog as this causes cows to stress and will result in lower conception rates
– After AI, allow cows to make their way from the shed at their own pace, back to the paddock.
– Tail paint or place heat detectors after the AI technician has visited.
– Supply a bucket of warm water and brush to allow the technician to clean up. This reduces the chances of spreading disease.

– Source: Dairy News
– Date: April 10, 2012
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