Adequate heat detection is one of the most important components of a successful breeding season and heat detection methods can prove essential. Heat detection is what determines the number of cows submitted and the number of cows correctly submitted for breeding.
Identifying cows on heat can be a difficult task as a standing heat – on average – only lasts nine hours and most standing heats occur at night.
Therefore, the use of heat detection methods is necessary to identify all cows that are on heat and which ones need to be drafted out for insemination.
1. Tail Paint
Tail paint is the most common heat detection method used in Ireland and has proved itself as a very successful method for most dairy farmers.
It involves applying a strip of paint to the cow’s tail head. If mounted the tail paint will be removed showing the farmer that the cow is in heat.
Kamars are among the heat detection methods also commonly used by farmers.
The Kamar device is a pressure-sensitive unit which turns from white to red after three seconds – when pressure is applied.
It is attached to the tail head of the cow using glue. It must be securely attached to work effectively.
3. Scratch cards
Scratch cards are available from a number of co-ops and companies. These cards can come with a self-adhesive back or may require the use of glue to apply them to the cow’s tail head.
When mounting occurs the scratch card is rubbed to reveal a red underlying colour – indicating that the cow is in heat.
4. Vasectomised bull
Some farmers use a vasectomised or a ‘teaser’ bull as a method of heat detection. However, depending on your herd size, more than one may be needed – which can be costly.
The cost of performing the procedure on a bull is €90-120 and it should be completed at least 40 to 60 days before the ‘teaser’ bull is introduced to the herd.
The bull has a chin ball harness attached which contains a coloured paint and this marks the cow when she is mounted.
‘Teaser’ bulls are more commonly used towards the end of the breeding season when picking up cows in heat becomes more difficult, as the number of cows in-calf rises.