Fertility in suckler and dairy herds
This week sees a shift in demand for our ScanMan fertility management services from Northern Ireland to Southern Ireland. Farmers in the North, who effectively calve on a year-round basis, put either stock bulls with cows going out to grass or reduce their focus on breeding cattle with silage and slurry management the primary focus.
We had one very interesting case study this week where a client was worried about reproductive performance in his suckler and dairy herds. Approximately one third of his milking cows have been diagnosed as high positives to Johne’s Disease based on both blood and faecal samples. His suckler herd has not been diagnosed with Johne’s. However, cases of Johne’s have been identified among his maiden heifers.
ScanMan revealed pregnancy rates of c30%, c30%, c70% and c70% in his dairy cows, maiden dairy heifers, suckler cows and replacement suckler heifers, respectively. His dairy cows had poor body condition scores but his maiden dairy heifers looked healthy. Initially, the farmer was blaming the AI technician but when we scanned the beef herd which had also been bred using the same AI technician, he accepted that Johne’s Disease was the primary predisposing factor for the poor reproductive performance in the herd.
From an industry perspective, we have to be pro-active in a Johne’s disease management programme. The disease may not be eradicated according to a leading specialist from Australia, but consumers of milk products need to be satisfied that the health of animals is optimal.
Dr. Dan Ryan is a cow fertility expert and can be contacted at www.cowsDNA.com