Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Timed AI yields big benefits for part-timers

Donal Callery from Skidoo, Ballyboughal, Co Dublin at Beef 2016 in Teagasc Grange, Dunsany. Photo: Tony Gavin.
Donal Callery from Skidoo, Ballyboughal, Co Dublin at Beef 2016 in Teagasc Grange, Dunsany. Photo: Tony Gavin.
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Part-time beef farmers may reap benefits from successfully synchronising their herd with timed AI to deliver a compact calving season, Teagasc researchers found.

A trial among 2,200 cows in 80 herds found 80pc of cows were pregnant within 23 days

Federico Randi said beef farmers can benefit from timed AI as it reduces the requirement for heat detection, tightens the breeding and calving seasons.

With star ratings debated by many farmers at Beef 2016, he pointed out it also allows them to breed replacements from elite sires.

The researcher said during their study they used three different programmes all based on a seven day progesterone protocol. The study found that 57pc were pregnant with a single AI was with the supplementation of eCG or PMSG.

He said the bulls were then later put out with the cows, with 78pc in calf at 23 days.

"The important message is you are not going to calve them all in the one day they are going to be spread from the single sire in around three weeks," he said. "As a consequence of the fact that cows that didn't conceive with synchronisation are going to repeat in three weeks. You are going to have a second compact calving."

Mr Randi said only 22pc of suckler cows in Ireland are born through AI, which is a very low acceptance of the technology.

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He said this does not improve the fertility but it is a management tool.

"Being a part-time farmer it is impossible to be there detecting cows in heat three to five times a day," he said. "This situation here you design your three handlings. From a calving point of view you have two compact calvings that you can organise your time around that."

However, Teagasc genetics expert Donagh Berry does caution that farmers must be sure that their cows are showing signs of fertility through oestrus.

He warns that using drugs for synchronisation with cows that may have an issue would breed infertility into the herd.


Donal Callery, manager of the 100 pedigree Charolais and 130 continental cross cow Skidoo herd in Ballyboughal, Co Dublin, synchronised 90 cows on one day. They found 10 cows were not suitable for it.

Mr Callery (pictured) pointed out 50pc conceived to the first timed AI and the key figure for him was 80pc calved within 33 days. He said he saw a lot of benefit in it for part-time farmers in terms of time and also sires.

"Doing so many the one day was great as it condenses the workload into a single day and it took a lot of the guess work out of heat detection. Even though we were doing a lot of AI and we would have teaser bulls and we'd be tailpainting.

"This was fixed time AI and regardless of whether we saw the heat or not they went for AI."

Mr Callery said he would use it again although it was expensive working out at €30 a cow for the injections and the coil, excluding the AI and straws.

"We have a closed herd and to breed our own replacements I wanted to use a variation of bulls so we used Saler, Simmental, Limousin and Charolais," he said. "We crossed the Saler bull with pedigree Charolais cows with a lot of milk that wouldn't be worthy of being in the pedigree herd but a good functional cow to breed replacements."

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