• The average BCS loss in the six weeks after calving should not be more than 0.75.
• Very thin cows should be put on once-a-day milking in the month before breeding and kept on the regime until they are pregnant.
Set growth targets for young stock:
• Weigh young stock regularly.
• Heifers should be at 60pc of mature weight at mating.
• Breed heifers one week before the main herd to extremely easy calving sires (preferably jersey) to facilitate fast recovery post-calving.
Excellent cow health:
• Use calving records to identify and check problem cows.
• Ensure cow roadways are repaired to avoid lameness.
• All vaccinations should be completed one month before breeding.
Pre-mating heat detection:
• Tail paint every cow twice a week in the month before breeding and record all bulling activity.
• Examine and treat cows that have not been seen in heat before starting.
• Do a refresher DIY AI course.
• Review the main signs of oestrous.
• Use the am/pm rule to inseminate the herd.
During the Breeding Season
• Step it up during the breeding season. Three 20-minute periods every day at times when cows are generally inactive, such as two hours after the morning milking, early in the afternoon, and two hours after the evening milking.
• Use multiple colours of tail paint to aid detection on cows and top up regularly.
• Scratch cards are a good option on heifers.
• Use a team of bulls with an average EBI of at least €250 and with a minimum fertility index of €125.
• 8-12 weeks after the start of the AI season, bring in the bull.
• Make sure he's in good condition and has reached the correct bodyweight for his breed and age.
• Monitor bulls carefully for signs of body condition loss, lameness or lethargy.
• Purchased bulls should be sourced from clean herds at least two months in advance of breeding.
• They should be screened for infectious diseases and vaccinated with the same programme as the rest of the herd.
• The breeding season should last no longer than 12-13 weeks.