Boost your herd’s fertility this breeding season

Achieve higher conception rates this breeding season through close monitoring of your herd’s body condition score (BCS).

The BCS of your herd should be regularly monitored between now and the breeding season to avoid any animals loosing condition or failing to achieve the target range of 2.75 – 3.25 (2.9 average) BCS by mating start date.

Under-conditioned cows or cows with a BCS of less than 2.75 will be slow to regain oestrus and lead to a reduction in your six-week in-calf rate.

As the animals pass through the crush, BCS can be carefully assessed using the flat of your hand across the main primary and secondary reference points. It is important that an overall visual assessment is also given.

Primary reference points:
  • Pin bones;
  • Loin or short ribs;
  • Ribs.

Secondary reference points:

  • Backbone;
  • Hip bone;
  • Shoulder.

Using your hand you will be able to feel the level of fat cover over these reference points and whether the bone is easily felt or not. You can then make an assessment of the animal based on this.

Above is a very useful video from Penn State Extension on how to assess your herd’s BCS.

Management of under-condition cows pre-breeding

Once-a-day (OAD) milking is a very useful way to help thin cows regain body condition pre-breeding.

By milking the cow once a day, the energy requirement for milk production drops significantly; which allows the cow the opportunity to put on condition rather than produce milk.

However, it is essential that cows are fed at the same rate as cows on twice-a-day (TAD) milking for this to happen.

The best way to do this is to keep them within the main herd and clearly mark them with a coloured tape on their tail.

BCS should be assessed early – to identify any thin cows – as OAD milking is only successful if it is practiced at least six-weeks before the breeding season begins.