Improved conditions fail to boost fertility rate
Fertility levels in the dairy herd did not improve this year, despite the improvement in the summer weather conditions.
Cow empty rates nationally are estimated to be around 15pc this autumn, showing little or no improvement on last year's fertility rates.
The 15pc empty rate was described by Teagasc dairy specialist George Ramsbottom as "no better or worse than usual", but he admitted that the lack of improvement on last year was surprising, given the improved weather conditions.
"Cows had a difficult enough spring and some would have come into the breeding season in poorer condition," he said. "All of the research shows that large losses in body condition score are reflected in lower submission rates and lower conception rates."
Fertility specialist Dr Dan Ryan described the empty rate as "unacceptably high, considering the perceived better grazing season in 2010."
However, he pointed out that the flush of grass growth in May resulted in low fibre grass, while the soya hulls component of concentrate feeds was also reduced.
"That meant that cows had a low fibre content in their diet," he said.
In addition, rapid grass growth after the drought resulted in high nitrogen uptake into the grass and resulted in excessive protein.