Thursday 01 November 2012
Dairy cow fertility
Low fertility levels are a huge hidden cost in Irish liquid milk herds, according to Teagasc liquid milk specialist Joe Patton.
He said the 443 days average calving interval on liquid milk farms is leading to many additional costs arising from lower milk yield, higher feed costs and a lower number of dairy replacements on the ground.
In contrast, the calving interval in the Teagasc liquid milk research herd at Johnstown Castle is 385 days.
Dr Patton told the 150 farmers attending the Teagasc National liquid milk event that they need to focus their breeding strategy on fertility, using AI and stock bulls.
He warned it will take eight to 10 years to solve the fertility problems in high yielding herds.
The worst performing 10% of dairy cows in the herd, in terms of fertility performance, should be culled with no sentimentally.
However, he warned that culling alone will not solve the problem. Farmers need to take a whole herd approach to tackling the underlying causes.
He estimated that up to 40% of cows are being recycled, or rolled over, from one calving period to the other on liquid milk farms, due to fertility problems, and this increases costs of milk production.
In the Johnstown Castle herd, cows are given only one chance to roll over from spring to autumn or autumn to spring.
If they slip again, they are culled.
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