Are you meeting your breeding targets that you had set out?

As we head into the latter part of May, many dairy farms will be three weeks into the breeding season by now.

At this stage, it is a good time to evaluate how the breeding period has fared and if you are meeting targets that you had set out prior to it kicking off.

Many farmers will have targeted 90% of their cows to be submitted by the third week of the season and they will have had an idea of how long they plan to breed for.

Some farmers will opt to just serve cows with AI for six-to-nine weeks and stop there. Others will AI for a set number of weeks and then let a stock bull to ‘mop up’ any cows that have yet to be bred.

Either way, depending on what the plan is, it is important to evaluate it to see if you’re on track or whether you need to re-think your strategy.

If a plan B needs to be set in motion, now is the time to do it because the longer you leave it, the longer it is going to take to get cows back in-calf.

The first job at this stage of the season is to look at your records and see how many cows/heifers have been bred at this stage. This will give you a good indication of whether or not you are on target to meet the goals that you had set out.

By looking at your records you will be able to identify any cows that haven’t been bred, which will allow you to investigate the reason behind this.

Alarm bells should be ringing if cows are calved in excess of 40 days and they haven’t resumed cycling. The only way you will be able to find out what is wrong with these cows is by scanning them.

If cows require a treatment, at least if they are identified now, you are giving them cows every chance of going back in-calf and pulling forward their calving date that bit further.

In terms of late-calving cows or heifers that haven’t been bred, a suitable synchronisation programme may be the best solution for them at this stage of the season.

Identifying cows that are in heat can be made easier through the use of ‘teaser’ bulls

As we progress further into the breeding period, the task of identifying cows in heat is going to become more challenging. Therefore, it is important to keep tail paint topped up or, at this stage, change colours to make it easier to identify cows that are ‘in bulling’.

Another option for farmers is to introduce a ‘teaser’ bull to the herd. They will make identifying what cows are in heat much easier, especially towards the latter part of the season.

A chin ball harness can be attached to the bull so that he will be able to mark the cows that are showing signs of heat.