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Olivia Hynes April 2022

Making More Use of AI

 Last year I used AI on the first 35 cows and I am very happy with the quality of the calves this year. All of the cows calved with very little assistance also. Using AI gives me a great range of bulls and I can match the bulls to suit the cow type. Having access to higher genetic merit bulls will produce better quality calves with higher average daily gains. The sale price will be better and this is crucial, as I sell weanlings in the Autumn. In 2021, I used well proven 5 star, CH terminal bulls, Fiston and Lapon which are ideal for the weanling market. On the replacement side I used the Limousin bulls ZAG and Moondharrig Knell. Both are 5 star on the replacement index and are easy calving on beef cows.

However, I am somewhat fearful of using more AI. It would be a lot easier to let the bull off with the cows and that would save me a lot in terms of labour.  But I think the benefits of using more AI will reap better rewards for me and I am prepared to put in the extra effort.

Heat Detection

The first step in getting the cow cycling is having her at the correct body condition of 2.5 + at breeding time. The cows are on good quality grass for the month of April. So far, ground conditions have been good and cows have stayed out on grass since calving. Heat detection is vital in getting a high submission rates. So, I plan to hire in a vasectomised bull for the breeding season. This is easier than purchasing a Friesian x weanling, getting him vasectomised myself and then trying to sell him after the season. Obviously, when hiring in a bull, I will ensure that he has been properly tested and vaccinated.

I am keeping 13 of the best heifers for replacements and I plan to use AI on these also. In comparsion to the cows using AI on these should be more straightforward. The heifers have been out on grass since February and weigh 380-400kgs plus. With the heifers, I am thinking of AI’ing naturally for the first 7 days which should pick up 4-5 of them. On day 8, I will inject with estrumate which should bring on the remaining heifers within the next 2-4 days and will be inseminated accordingly. The target is to have 70% conception rate by day 11-12.       I will let you know how it all works out next month.

As part of the Future Beef programme, we are having some training on breeding, heat detection, synchronisation, on the farm of Shane Keaveney this week. So I am looking forward to getting some more expert information there!


On the grassland side, another 40 acres will be closed for silage this week. The sheep have it grazed off bare so the quality of the silage should still be very good. The soil P index is low so I will apply 2 bags of 10.10.20 per acre plus 2 bags of Cut sward/acre. As I said in an earlier article, I have no reserves of silage left and need to ensure that at least 75% of my fodder requirement is made by mid-June. With the price of fertiliser and other rising farm inputs any non- performing stock such as cull ewes and cows will be sold shortly. Also heifers that are not been kept for the bull will be sold next week. Also, there are a lot of costs in spring and the income is needed to keep the bills paid.