There are four key things to getting dairy herd fertility right, according to Meath-based vet Frank O’Sullivan.

These are nutrition, genetics, infectious diseases and management of AI.

Frank was talking recently at the Structures for Dairy Expansion Event hosted by Teagasc and Lakeland Dairies and said that farmers should focus on nutrition and dairy herd fertility if they wish to expand.

“When a dairy farmer expands, they may be challenged about minding that cow through the transition period.

“If a farmer expands and does not feed the animals properly things will not work out well.”

Infectious diseases should also be considered, he said, with some of these diseases having a resting period within the animal for up to six years.

Dairy herd fertility can only flow on farms when all these factors are considered, he said.

The genetics play an important role. The EBI system has changed in recent years to place more focus on fertility, and this has worked.

But the EBI is not the only genetic factor to consider, he said, farmers should focus more on the calving difficulty of bulls used as difficult calving’s will have a negative impact on herd performance.

He also said that buying in animals is exposing the herd to more health issues than breeding replacements, but he said it’s a route some farmers planning on expanding will have no choice about.