Consider scanning cows 14-20 days after calving for breeding season boost
Mild weather, high grass growth rates and a positive outlook for the dairy industry all lead to an upbeat mood among dairy farmers.
Autumn breeding programmes are now at week seven, while spring-calving schedules are just about to begin. The contrast in the genetics used for both of these systems has become evident in the past two years. The primary breeding focus in grass-based milk production is the use of high EBI sires.
This has resulted in a dilemma for many breeders in the Holstein Friesian society. They fear that selection of sires based on EBI will undo many of the breeding objectives in terms of cow type and genetic potential for milk production.
The phrase "there are horses for courses" is apt in our current approach to milk production in Ireland. Grass-based milk production, with a cow genetically selected for a system requiring minimal inputs of concentrates, is potentially the most profitable worldwide milk production system.
The fear of change in breeding policy among Holstein Friesian breeders is palpable on farm visits. Many feel they are being branded with a cow which is not suited to grass-based milk production in Ireland. In my opinion, this is where the use of ultrasonography as a breeding management tool has not been explored.
Most farmers are familiar with the use of scanning to determine pregnancy status and due calving dates in cows.
Ultrasonography can also be used to sex pregnancies, to enable heat synchronisation programmes for breeding, for selection of recipients for embryo transfer, and to identify reproductive problems.
However, the major financial benefit to the use of ultrasonography in the dairy industry is in the area of preventative health management. Let me explain.