Farm Ireland

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Early scans show mixed dairy pregnancy results

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Early reports from dairy scanners show a wide range in pregnancy rates for the first 21-30 days of the breeding season.

Dan Ryan of Cows365 said some farmers had achieved higher pregnancy rates than normal, while others had much lower pregnancy results.

Mr Ryan said his clients could be divided into two groups. The first group consisted of farmers who did not supplement cows' diet with concentrate early enough.

"These had low submission rates and four-week pregnancy rates below 40-45pc," he said. "The herds in this poorly performing group have had one of the worst years I've seen for a considerable length of time.

"On the other hand, farmers who knew they would run into trouble supplemented on time to spare their silage and these had a better reproductive performance," he said. "These had a good pregnancy rate close to 65pc for the first 30 days of the breeding season."

He cited one herd in Cork with 181 cows pregnant from the first 300 inseminations.

Another herd owner in Kerry who supplemented with ration early recorded 43 cows out of 80 pregnant within 30 days, compared to just 22 out of 80 in 2012.

Billy Curtin from the Dairygold research farm in Teagasc recorded 44.5pc of cows pregnant from the first three weeks of the breeding season. The figure included cows but not heifers from the Next Generation and robotic milking trial herds, as well as some non-trial cows.

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"It's below normal due to a high number of missed heats but it's early days yet to draw conclusions on fertility overall," he maintained.

"The cold May resulted in less activity among cows and more missed heats."

Of 121 cows scanned, 14 had silent or missed heats.

Scanner Jonathan Kenneally, who works in Cork and surrounding counties recorded good results in some herds.

"So far, I've seen about 12pc of cows not in calf to the first three weeks of the breeding season," he said. In one herd where 126 cows were scanned, some 115 were in calf, while another herd showed 50 out of 56 cows scanned in calf after the first 21 days of breeding.

However he added that silent heats had been a problem on other farms due to cows being in poorer body condition than usual.

Irish Independent