‘Scanning results have been good so far; I haven’t come across any disasters yet’

Clare native, Enda Kearney, has been a busy man ever since the scanning season kicked off for him in mid August.

The bovine ultrasound technician and part-time AI technician for Munster Bovine has been busy scanning both beef and dairy herds in counties Clare, Limerick and Galway over the past month.

To see how the scanning season is going and how successful the 2020 breeding period was for farmers, AgriLand paid a visit to Enda during the week when he was scanning a herd of cows in Co. Clare.

He gave us an idea of how well herds are scanning and what he has been seeing on the ground over the last few months.

He said: It’s been a busy couple of weeks for me. After the breeding season finished up I had a bit of a break. Then, when mid August came I was back full tilt scanning. 

The vast majority of the farms I go out to are beef herds mainly, as this part of the country, especially in Clare, isn’t too well suited for dairy – in most parts of the county anyway. 

This time of the month you could say is peak time for me scanning. So far, scanning results have been good. On average I’d be seeing empty rates of 8-10%. 

I scanned a high EBI herd recently and the empty rate was 0.5%. The majority of farms are getting great results.

The biggest empty rate I have seen to-date is probably 12%. I haven’t come across any ‘disaster herds’ yet and hopefully I won’t. 

I find that year-on-year more farms are scanning their herds, especially earlier in the season. Farmers can see the advantage of doing it and it can help to reduce costs.

Enda scanning cows on the farm of JJ and Joe Melody during the week

It might be obvious but it’s vitally important to know the status of a cow after the breeding season. A cow that is not in calf and if the farmer doesn’t know that, then that cow is draining resources and at the end of the day costing money.

If you know whether a cow is or isn’t in-calf, then you can plan ahead, such as when to dry off, etc.

Knowing when cows are going to calf can allow you to organise yourself next spring and batch cows according to when they are due to calf and get the farm in order, such as getting the calf house ready for example. 

Furthermore, I am seeing a lot more farmers doing a mid-season scan. It’s a great way of identifying problem cows that didn’t hold their serve and that might need a wash out or need to be treated. 

It’s obvious to see that farmers want more information about their cows because the more information they have, the easier it is to make culling decisions.