Farmers should be using milk-recording data to help with their breeding decisions.
Milk recording on Irish dairy farms has become increasingly more popular, as farmers are seeing the benefits it offers.
But it still remains an under-utilised tool on many dairy farms, with many farmers not using the data to its fullest potential.
When milk recording cows there are a number of objectives that farmers are trying to achieve, including:
- Assessing dry cow therapy performance;
- Assessing current performance (problem cows);
- Using reports to plan a ‘containment strategy’ for somatic cell count (SCC);
- Identifying cows for culling based on SCC (repeat offenders) and lifetime performance data;
- Identifying cows not to breed replacements from (Lifetime performance report).
The data collected from multiple recordings should be used to identify problem cows and those that should not be bred, or bred to a beef sire.
The data from milk recording, along with economic breeding index (EBI) and a number of other factors, should determine how each cow is bred.
A lot of farmers have started to notice that higher cell count cows tend to have heifers with the same issue.
So, by not breeding a replacement heifer from these cows, you can reduce the risk of a cell count issue in the future.
The data that is available from milk recording can be somewhat overwhelming, so discussing the results with an advisor may be of help.
Milk recording is a very valuable tool to dairy farmers and getting the most out of it is important going forward.
With the new regulations now in place, building as much data and records on your herd as possible is important.
And once you have the data it is important that you use it to make educated management decisions.
The latest data from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) shows that 794,191 cows have been recorded so far this year.
This a 12.5% increase on the same period in 2021, when 706,214 cows had been recorded.
The statistic shows that we are moving in the right direction.