Mating season gets into full swing for calving herds
For spring calving herds, the mating season is now in full swing. This means the potential for next year's profit is being determined now. Current conception rates will dictate next year's six week in-calf rate and the resultant days in milk that will be achieved.
Achieving a compact calving spread offers the possibility of higher milk sales and improved profitability. However, a significant and understated benefit is the management simplicity compact calving offers.
For example, a protracted calving spread results in a farmer managing more groups of cattle in the form of dry cows, calving cows, freshly calved milking cows, big and small maiden heifers, newborn calves and weaned calves. All at the same time you are trying to focus on mating cows.
In contrast, a compactly calved herd makes it easier to rear uniform replacement heifers fit for breeding and offers the opportunity to end calving (and possibly even weaning of replacement heifer calves) before mating begins.
Some even take the small window of opportunity it offers prior to mating to take a break away. So it's definitely worth the effort.
With this in mind, good operators are diligent and actively manage the herd for a compact calving spread. To do this needs measurement, targets and triggers. Remember that targets are areas to strive for (an ideal) whereas triggers are prompts to investigate a problem and act on it.
For the milking herd, the first target that should be given due consideration is the submission rate at 21 days. To calculate this relies on accurate records of AI or bull inseminations.
As highlighted by John Donworth in recent weeks, the submission rate is calculated from the number of cows inseminated in the first 21 days divided by the number of cows that have calved by day 21 of mating, multiplied by 100.