The focus on many autumn-calving herds is moving from the calving season to the impending breeding season.
Ideally, you should be monitoring heats in cows to ensure that they are cycling. Any cow that is longer than a month calved and not cycled yet needs to be checked.
The breeding targets for each herd is different, but Teagasc recommends the selection of a panel (seven to eight) high economic breeding index (EBI) (>€280) sires from the active bull list.
You should ideally be breeding replacements from the best cows in your herd; they can be identified by using milk recording data.
The pre-breeding scanning of cows is a useful tool to monitor cows and give them the best chance of going in-calf.
If you only scan select cows pre-breeding, some cows that should be top of the list include: Cows that you have not seen in heat; cows that had a hard calving or twins; and cows that came into heat too soon after their last heat.
Recording cows that had a hard calving is important ahead of the breeding season.
Cows can often suffer from endometriosis or as it often referred to ‘dirty cow‘ after having a difficult calving.
Cows with endometriosis often do not exhibit any signs of illness. Their feed intake and milk production is usually not affected. But, it does have an impact on the cow’s fertility performance.
It can usually be solved by a course of antibiotics.
Another issue that can be picked up by scanning cows is a luteal or a follicular cyst.
A cyst can stop a cow from coming into heat or make the cow continue to come into heat in too short of a time period.
This is why recording heats is so important, so cows that may have a cyst can be identified and treated easier.
Identifying cows that may have cysts early is important, in order to give them the best chance of cycling normally and going in-calf.
Identifying these cows and treating them should result in higher conception rates within the herd.
This will mean more cows will calf in a compact time frame and there should be less cows culled.