Farm Ireland

Thursday 23 November 2017

How to jump start those late calving cows

With the spring calving season behind us, many farmers are now contemplating what to do with those late calving cows.

They not only string out calving at an already busy time of year but are also costing money as cows which calved in May will generate significantly less profit compared to cows that calved in February due to higher feed costs and reduced yields.

These late calvers will also have a greater chance of being empty at the end of the breeding season.

It’s a known fact that cows which calve more than eight weeks after the start of the calving season have less than a 50pc chance of conceiving during the first six weeks of the next breeding season. They are also twice as likely to be empty at the end of mating, compared with cows calving in the first three weeks of the calving season.

Empty cows represent a significant cost and many farmers therefore have a great opportunity to drive profitability of their enterprises through a focus on getting these late calvers pregnant faster.

It’s proven that this can be done without having to choose between good grazing management and good herd fertility and now the time is right to jump start those late calvers and wrap up the breeding season!

Generating large numbers of early calving heifers and culling late calvers will help improve a herd’s calving pattern but this is not always easy and will require sustained effort over a number of years.

Hormone treatment protocols can be used to stimulate late calving cows’ ovaries to become active and start cycling again after calving and can induce ovulation so these cows can be bred sooner and moved up in next year’s calving season, reducing the need for culling some of those cows with proven track records in your herd.

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Hormone treatments can be used in natural breeding herds as well as to facilitate fixed-time AI at the end of the treatment protocol allowing a 100pc submission rate which can help improve a herd’s overall calving pattern. However, they are not a magic bullet and nutrition and body condition score prior to calving will also play a critical role in the cow’s ability to start cycling and get pregnant again after calving.

It is possible to improve herd fertility and tighten calving patterns through monitoring and intervention, so take stock of the situation now before the opportunity has gone! Discuss your options with your vet now!

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