In pasture-based systems of milk production, the three-week breeding submission rate target is 90%, which is critical in order to achieve a six-week calving rate of 90%.

Nationally only 65% of cows and heifers calve during the first six weeks of the calving season; ideally this should be at 90%. Doing so facilitates long lactations and high levels of milk production.

While nationally this has improved over the past five years, Teagasc’s analysis shows that the effect on profitability is still substantial. On average, the national cost is €206 less profit per cow per lactation.

3-week breeding submission rate

On the recent the Dairy Edge podcast, Emma-Louise Coffey was joined by Stephen Moore a researcher with Teagasc.

Stephen spoke about the key practices to achieve a 90% three-week submission rate to maximise the six-week calving rate during the spring of 2022.

Stephen recommended that “farmers complete pre-breeding heat detection using tail paint to identify cows that are not cycling; tail paint should be checked once per week and a note taken of cows that have cycled”.

He added: ‘Farmers should consider metrichecking and a pre-breeding ultrasound to identify any reproductive issues and take action ahead of the mating start date.’

“Heifers are the most fertile and highest genetic merit stock on the farm.

”A synchronise protocol should be considered to ensure all heifers are submitted in the first 10 days of the breeding season.”

Stephen outlined the importance of genetics and in particular the economic breeding index (EBI) fertility sub-index (SI).

He recommends that your bull team average should have a fertility SI of €120 with all bulls greater than €80.

Higher fertility SI cows cycle earlier post-calving and display stronger heats while also achieving higher conception to service compared to lower fertility SI cows.