Remember that missed heats cost you €250 per cow
Breeding programmes are now well underway on many farms with grass-based milk production systems. The primary focus should be accurate heat detection with a 90pc minimum submission rate for the first three weeks of the breeding season.
But we need to have a common sense approach to targeted heat detection rates. Create a numerical list of cows greater than 40 days calved at the onset of your breeding programme.
Walk through your cows at grass and identify cows that are at risk of not cycling.
Cows that are lame or thin are prime examples.
Some farmers reduce the walking distance and introduce once a day milking for these 'at risk' cows. Prevention has to be the key when one considers that the opportunity cost of missed heats is €250/cow.
Cows which have had either twins, difficult calvings, milk fever, displaced abomasums, lameness before or after calving, ketosis, mastitis or retained afterbirth are likely candidates for problem breeders.
It is essential that your animal health vaccination programme is up to date with continuous monitoring for diseases such as IBR, Johnes', and both liver and stomach fluke.
The risk of BVD should be minimal if biosecurity measures are in place and BVD samples have all been clear for the past two years. Unfortunately, we do not have compulsory removal of BVD positive calves from farms.