A DAIRY monitor farm discussion group meeting (for 11 members of the closed group) was hosted by Andy Goodwin of Dale Farms at Congleton Farm, who are mostly spring block calving dairy farmers.
Monitor farmer Phil Asbury explained to the group Clive Hall’s fertility targets for after the 12 week service block: empty rate 9% at 12 weeks (9wks AI/ 3 wks sweeper bull ), this was discussed within the group in comparison to their set targets.
He said that this year the cows started bulling from late March, and that the target was to have 80% of the tail paint rubbed off by the end of April, with the remaining 20% of cows obviously having not expressed heat.
Phil stated that he would focus on those 20% of cows at this point to improve the chance of cycling, for example having Ed check their reproductive tracts with an ultrasound scanner, diet, grass/nutrition and consider a small group of problem cows being milked once per day.
The 12 week service period at Clive Hall, started on 2nd May.
Other topics discussed included: heat detection and non-cycling cows, AI technique, disease at calving, method of checking cows for dirty / disease after calving, retained cleansings, importance of easy calving, assessment of non-cycling cows before the service period begins and fertility of bulls.
Ed went on to ask the group, “What are the key factors that will make a difference on fertility rates?” which included the following:
• Minimise disease at calving – national average for disease in UK herds.
o Retained cleansings – 5%
o Milk fever – 5%
- Effective dry cow management
• Calf statistics-national average
o Twins – 3%
o Dead calves – 7%
o Assisted calving – 5%
- Appropriate bull selection
- Identification of calving difficulty
• Identify calving disease promptly and treat effectively, including metritis and whites. Sick animals means lost milk and a poor return to ovarian cyclicity
o Identify affected animals and treat aggressively – tail tape colours to aid identification of uterine disease status
o Sign off cows as clean
• Identify non-cycling cows and attempt to improve submission
o Tail paint before PSM (planned start of mating)
o High risk cows may be in once a day group
o Hormonal intervention following Ed examining cows not seen bulling just before PSM and those cows not served by 3 weeks after PSM.
• Accurate heat detection goes on for expressing heat
o Caution of false heats/missed heats
• High standard of AI technique imperative
o Refresher courses are recommended
o Temperature of the straw should be stable
o Number of straws and thawing time should be taken into consideration
o Thawing technique
• Fertile Bulls- an annual bull breeding soundness exam by a vet is essential
o Scrotal circumference
o Microscopic examination of the semen
o Any physical abnormalities, including lameness
o Number of bulls required
• Set fertility targets and review anually
Submission rate first 24 days of service period 90%
o Conception rate 50%
o Cows bulling before PSM -80%
o Numbers pregnant in 3 week blocks
- Week 3- 45%
- Week 6 -68%
- Week 9 -91%
- Week 12-90%
- Empty rate should be less than 10%
• Good grazing essential