Submission rates and heat detection vital to farm profits

Censortec – an Irish-based agricultural business – will showcase the Nedap Cow Control System at the National Ploughing Championships at Stand 165; Gate 2.

The key to reproductive efficiency in your dairy herd is in submission and conception rates. In fact, pregnancy rate is a product of both. But what do we mean by these terms and what should we be aiming for?

The ideal target for an Irish dairy farm is a submission rate of +90%. This is 90% of the herd coming into heat and inseminated in the first three weeks from the beginning of the breeding season of the portion of the herd you want to breed.

There are several factors that dictate the submission rates on all farms.

Cow health

Good oestrus (heat cycle), which equates to a positive energy balance and a healthy uterus is key. Having cows in good physical shape with regards to hooves, legs and muscle is also necessary.

Resumption of cyclicity

Normal cycling should return to a dairy cow 15-20 days post-calving. This first cycle/heat should appear approximately 25 days and return every 18-24 days after that.

Farms with poor reproductive efficiency tend to have problems with both accuracy and efficiency in detection of oestrus.

Conception

The crucial element of the conception rate is the timing of insemination. Most Irish dairy farms are inseminating once a day.

The reality is, to achieve 90% submission rates on your farm, you need to consider twice-a-day insemination or at least altering the time of insemination.

Pre-breeding checks

To maximise efficiency, farmers need to monitor cows prior to the breeding season. All cows not cycling by day 42 need to be examined by a vet.

Studies have shown that up to 50% of these cows that are examined were in heat, but it was missed. These are cows that will return a significant cost saving on vet fees.

PJ O’Donoghue is farming with Censortec Nedap Cow Control in north Cork. On his experiences, he said: “It is like having a person looking after the cows for you during that busy breeding season.”

Nedap Livestock Management is the global leader in farming automatic using individual animal identification. Nedap’s easy-to-use technology helps farmers manage millions of dairy cattle and pigs 24 hours a day in more than 100 countries.

The Censortec Nedap Cow Control System will monitor every cow in the herd for: heat activity; resumption of cyclicity; and conception.

Heat activity monitoring

There are only 1.5 mounts per hour per cow and each mount lasts four-to-six seconds. A cow’s heat lasts six-to-eight hours.

Collectively, these numbers tell us cows are in heat for one-third of the day and spend just three-to-five minutes standing to be mounted. That’s a very small window to catch a heat.

Heat activity of cows tends to be lowest during feeding and milking times. Approximately 70% of mounting occurs between 7pm and 7am when cows have limited distractions. That’s 70% of the herd coming into heat during the nighttime.

“Activity monitoring takes on the full-time job of heat detection,” said Sean Crowley of Censortec.

“These systems also rely on other indicators, like sniffing and chin resting, to make sure heats don’t get missed.”

Resumption of cyclicity

The cow simply may not be cycling (annovular). With an activity monitoring system, you can act proactively by finding these problem cows quicker, then solving the cause of the fertility problem or providing an effective treatment to resolve it; ultimately getting them bred faster.

“Instead of missing the heat altogether and waiting for the next cycle, activity monitors give you actionable insights to dig deeper into why a cow didn’t come into heat,” Sean added.

Conception

“Inseminating cows at the right time matters to your dairy’s bottom line, so it’s important to catch cows in heat when it’s most productive to breed them,” Sean noted.

“Activity monitors are a tool to track heats 24/7 so you don’t have to spend time watching for heats or worry about missing a heat.

“However, to catch cows in heat, cows need to physically show their heats. Having appropriate environmental and management protocols in place will help ensure you never miss a single heat.”

To learn more about heat detection with activity monitoring systems and how they can help your farm reach its productivity goals, visit censortec.com.

The bottom line

As it is well documented at this stage, each missed heat can cost an Irish dairy farmer a minimum of €250. The Nedap Cow Control System is extremely accurate and indicates to the farmer the optimum time for insemination, therefore boosting submission rates and reducing the calving interval.

The system monitors the herd with regard to eating and rumination, allowing the farmer to act quickly with regard to sick cows and therefore significantly reducing veterinary costs. If the percentage of sick cows in the herd is reduced, it will also mean more milk in the tank.

The reduction of bulls on a farm also has a significant cost benefit, but can also make your farm a much safer place.

“These are only some of the benefits of the system,” said Sean.

“It is very exciting to be bringing the Nedap Cow Control System to Irish farmers, as Nedap is and has always been the pioneers of animal sensor technology, with over 40 years of experience in the field. Come and see for yourself.”

Censortec is located at Stand 165, inside Gate 2 at this year’s National Ploughing Championships in Offaly and has some exciting special offers available. Click here for more information