Having enough 'bull power' for breeding finale is vital
The improvement in weather for the past three weeks has provided an excellent opportunity to preserve top quality silage and get slurry spread in preparation for second cuts of silage.
Farmers are now heeding the need to have extra reserves of silage to address the risk of an extended indoor feeding period.
Milk proteins are reduced significantly on many dairy units. One case study with a 170-cow dairy herd in Cork comes to mind. His milk protein is 0.28pc less than average milk deliveries this time last year.
This alone has reduced his milk cheque by €2,800. In addition, he has had to spend an extra €3,000 on concentrates.
Managing grass when weather conditions improved created a scenario of 'famine to a feast' with a consequent improvement in grass quality available for grazing. Removing grazing blocks from the rotation to make silage has been essential to create high quality sward regrowths.
Farmers are now in catch-up mode, as there is a continuous backlog of work on the farm. AI technicians have told me there was a shorter period of intensive use of AI this season, prior to the introduction of stock bulls. Farmers are now using more synchronisation programmes for their maiden heifers.
This has enabled greater use of AI, where some of these programmes facilitate fixed line AI of all heifers on a given day.
Scanning results, in terms of first serviced pregnancy rate, vary tremendously by farm. If the heifers are 'fit' by breed and age, pregnancy rates of 65pc are the norm. However, these programmes used in conjunction with undersized pre-pubertal heifers have resulted in poor pregnancy rates and heifers either still in a pre-pubertal or cystic reproductive status.