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Three weeks into the breeding season

18 May 2020
Type Media Article

On average nationally only 71% of cows and 78% of heifers are bred in the first three weeks and on the average farm a low 6-week calving rate is costing €200/cow. What can you do at this stage in the breeding season?

We’re approaching the three week mark into the breeding season and it’s an important milestone in the breeding calendar. At this stage Teagasc has a target of 90% of the cows bred and all of the replacement heifers AI’d at least once. These milestones are needed to help us to achieve our target of 90% of the herd calved next spring in 6 weeks.  Nationally however we know that on average only 71% of cows and 78% of heifers are bred in the first three weeks and on the average farm a low 6-week calving rate is costing €200/cow.

In this video George Ramsbottom, Teagasc Dairy Specialist outlines what your targets should be 3 weeks into the breeding season.

What can you do at this stage in the breeding season?

  1. Have a look at your own breeding records – what percentage of cows and heifers have been bred at this stage
  2. Step 2 is to identify the cows and heifers that haven’t yet been bred. How long are they calved at this stage? If they’re calved for more than 40 days or so they should have resumed cyclicity again. A scan of the non-bred cows by a well-trained scanner or your vet will answer that question.
    1. Cows with an infection may need be treated subject to veterinary advice. The conception rate to a first synchronised heat is rarely as good as a more ‘natural’ heat but at least you’ve got such cows cycling and the conception rate of repeats should be normal.
    2. Later calved cows may require a synchronisation programme once a group of them is 30 days calved or so.
    3. For heifers that haven’t been bred there are a variety of synchronisation options available depending on whether they’re cycling or not. For smaller herds or where there is only a small number of heifers left not bred, we’d recommend that they’re run with the dairy cows. They get used to staying out of the parlour quickly enough and are easier to spot bulling in a bigger group of animals.
  3. Keep the tail paint topped up – it’s needed more as the season progresses as there are less cows and heifers bulling on any one day

Remember the targets, 90% bred at the end of three weeks, 100% bred after 6 weeks and 90% calved next spring in the first 6 weeks.