We are coming close to the finish line on many spring-calving dairy farms, as the calving season begins to wind down and tail off.

However, between now and the start of breeding can be a hectic time of the year on farms, particularly if there are somatic cell count (SCC) issues or if heifers are below target weight coming up to breeding.

To avoid these issues, there are a number of things farmers can do now.

First Milk Recording

The best time to carry out the first milk recording is within 60 days of the first cow calving; so many farmers will be approaching this mark.

Also Read: Milk recording: When should I start?

It is important that farmers start building a story of their herd’s SCC before the ban on blanket use of antibiotics at dry-off comes into effect in 2022.

Early milk recording is important for a number of reasons:
  • To identify new infections early before they start infecting other animals;
  • To find out the effectiveness of your dry-off routine;
  • To identify cows which were not cured over the dry period who would be obvious candidates for culling.
Also Read: Aurivo announces new €5/cow milk recording programme

Reaching Target Weights

Once the calving season ends, there isn’t much time until the breeding season begins to kick off. With farmers busy calving cows, the matter of replacement heifers reaching target weight is usually at the back of their minds.

However, the clock is ticking and having replacement heifers at their target weight by breeding is key to achieving maximum conception rates.

To ensure all heifers reach the target of 60% of mature weight by breeding, Teagasc has advised farmers to take the following steps:
  • Weigh all heifers;
  • Add on 0.7kg/day over 60 days (42kg) to their current weight;
  • Determine if they will be at their target weight – 60% of mature cow size – on May 1;
  • Prioritise getting heifers, or at least the lightest, out to grass now;
  • Good quality grass, plus 2kg of concentrates, will deliver greater than 0.7kg/day.