Almost one in ten farmers finds breeding their cows to be the most difficult task of the year.
Being organised in advance can make it an easier job.
Here are some of the practices used on the most labour efficient farms.
Controlling breeding/AI costs
Firstly,breeding/AI investment must be made, but make sure that you select the right team of AI sires for your herd.
* The starting point must be an examination of your ICBF EBI report with your adviser.
* Achieving a submission rate of over 90% is critical to achieving a high six-week calving rate.
Starting recording heats about a month before the breeding season begins reduces the number of cows that you need to check before AI starts.
Then, 10 days before breeding begins, check cows that haven’t shown heats, and are more than 30 days calved.
* Tail paint is the cheapest heat detection aid available and must be used; alternatives are available, but may be slightly more expensive.
* Use of GeneIreland AI sires is a great way to access high-quality, high-EBI sires for very small money.
A small number of black and white packs and a larger number of crossbred packs may still be available.
Farmers committed to the industry long-term, who are milk recording and actively recording data on ICBF, should consider applying. Contact 1850-600900 for details.
* You can minimise AI costs by working hard to increase conception rates. Increasing conception rate to first service from 45% to 55% in a 100-cow herd will result in 20 fewer AI straws over nine weeks (and at €20 per straw, a saving of €400).
You must ensure that heifers are at target weight at bulling time (you really should have been working on this before now).
Thin cows and late calvers must be milked once a day to allow them gain necessary body condition and increase the likelihood of conception.
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