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How thorough is your plan for mating?

A thorough dairy reproduction plan being used by our company is delivering excellent results.

With rises in the pay-out more than ever, it pays to have as many cows in calf as early as possible. As well as making sure cows reach their optimal body condition score (BCS) targets next season (See Story page 2), opting for a more intensive approach in the run up to mating will pay off, quite literally, dividends.

The following six-step plan yields excellent results:

  1. A targeted approach to getting cows in calf earlier starts with treating any uterine infection following calving. Regular metrichecking identifies infected cows early, giving them a better chance of curing and time to be rechecked after treatment to make sure treatment was effective. Ideally, the herd should be checked three times before mating, or at least the ‘at-risk’ cows (cows with retained membranes, metritis, assisted and difficult calvings, twins, milk fever) with a whole herd check at least four weeks before the planned start of mating (PSM) to catch any cows that have infections but no history to indicate they were ‘at-risk’.
  2. Next, trace element testing six weeks before mating and bulk milk BVD testing in the month before mating help prevent trace element deficiencies or BVD infection interfering with your herd’s reproductive performance.
  3. By starting premating heats five weeks before PSM the patterns of cycling cows can be tracked for two rounds of a Why Wait Programme and non-cyclers can be identified for early treatment. This is also a great time to refresh or train members of staff on heat detection practices.
  4. Two rounds of the Why Wait Programme compact the first three weeks of mating into just one week and yields great returns in early milk production and earlier supply next season.
  5. Early CIDRs are an effective way of pulling problem non-cyclers up to earlier calvers next season, generating not only more milk but valuable AB calves that return a healthy profit above and beyond the costs of the CIDR programme. By treating the non-cyclers identified in the premating heats and treating them at the start of the week before PSM, they can be inseminated in the first few days of mating season, rather than waiting for them to cycle at some point in the following weeks (or months!).
  6. Finally, any of the late calvers or cows who were marked as cycling in the first three weeks of the premating heats but didn’t come on again after PSM are treated as the second group of non-cyclers shortly after the planned start of mating.

By the third week of mating, following this plan, submission rate will be close to 100%.

Results from this season’s pregnancy testing are already demonstrating phenomenal results, with some farms achieving double figure improvements in their six week in calf rates and as much as 5% reduction in not in calf rates.

It’s important to remember though that the details are key, making sure feed levels/macro minerals are adequate throughout the calving/mating period, heat detection is spot on and timing of insemination is accurate! These are the core elements to successful mating together with consistency; cows don’t like change!

To discuss how this dairy reproduction plan can work on your farm, get in touch with your vet today!