Back to basics on breeding: The key factors farmers must consider to get cows back in calf this spring
With AI and bulling less than two weeks away, taking advantage of the narrow window to get cows back in calf is essential
We have been waiting for what seems like an eternity, but finally the spring proper has arrived. We've been so busy dealing with the shortage of fodder and the terrible weather that the breeding season has crept up on us. AI and bulling are now less than two weeks away on many farms.
The late spring means a back-log of tasks that have yet to be tackled such as slurry, fertiliser and cattle turnout. We can't let breeding take a back seat however. The clock is ticking and the narrow window of opportunity to get a cow back in calf for next spring is more important this year than ever. With a jam-packed few weeks ahead, we must stick to the basics to get cows back in calf this spring.
There are a lot of thin cows around the country at present. Cows in poor body condition will struggle to go back in calf in a compact spring calving system. They need energy in their diet to stand any chance of cycling early and holding to first service. Identify cows that need extra feeding and make a plan to get them moving in the right direction.
Your vet and nutritionist will advise you on the best type of concentrate to supplement thin cows with at the start of the breeding season. With a flush of grass on the horizon, it is important that any increase or change in concentrate supplementation is made gradually in order to avoid dietary upsets.
Use tools such as blood sampling and milk recording data to determine the level of effect the fodder crisis has had on your herd. For example, a low milk protein percentage is a direct indicator of a negative energy balance in your herd. Your vet will be able to identify the extent of the problem and advise on a corrective course of action.