As the breeding season commences on farms across Ireland, it is crucial to monitor submission rates to ensure that targets are met. For the majority of Irish dairy herds, the goal is to have 90% of cows calving within the first six weeks of the calving season. However, achieving this target requires a lot of work to ensure that enough cows are served within the first six weeks of breeding.
To meet the target, farmers must have 90% of their cows submitted for breeding in the first three weeks of the breeding season. This means that on average, 4.3% of the herd needs to be bred each day in the first 21 days. For a 100-cow herd, this equates to a little over four cows per day. Although not all of these cows will hold to first serve, the fact that they have been served within the first three weeks means that they should cycle again within 21 days. This gives them two opportunities to go in calf within the first six weeks of breeding.
It is crucial to note that although cows have been submitted for breeding, they should only be included in this figure if they were actually bred. Some cows may have been submitted but were not cycling or had already been bred in recent days.
Once the first three weeks of breeding have been completed, farmers need to start looking at the cows that have not been bred yet. If these cows have not cycled by this point, they need to be checked by a vet as quickly as possible. The longer these cows are left unchecked, the later in the calving season they will calve down or potentially, they will slip out of the system altogether.
Farmers can take certain measures to ensure that their cows are ready for breeding. These include body condition scoring, pre-breeding vaccinations, and mineral supplementation. Body condition scoring is a simple way to assess a cow’s body condition and determine whether she is in good condition to breed. Pre-breeding vaccinations can help to prevent diseases such as leptospirosis and IBR, which can lead to reduced fertility and abortions. Mineral supplementation can also help to improve fertility and ensure that cows have the necessary nutrients for breeding.
In addition to these measures, farmers should also ensure that their cows are in good health and free from any underlying health issues that could affect their ability to breed. This includes checking for lameness, mastitis, and other health issues that can impact fertility.
Overall, achieving high submission rates during the breeding season requires a lot of work and attention to detail. By monitoring submission rates, checking for cows that have not cycled, and taking measures to ensure that cows are in good health and condition, farmers can increase their chances of meeting their breeding targets and achieving a successful calving season.