Preparation for the breeding season is underway on most dairy farms, but for many there are still a number of late-calving cows.

Having a 90% six-week calving rate remains a goal on many dairy farms, however achieving this level of reproduction efficiency is difficult.

To achieve that figure, nearly everything has to go right, which is rarely the case on farms.

Late-calving cows

To compact your calving and push forward your late calvers, there are really only two options available.

The first option is not to breed the late-calving cows and replace them with heifers.

However, for this option there needs to be heifers available, as otherwise it would bring numbers down or bring costs costs up, by way of buying-in new stock.


The second option available to farmers is the use of a synchronisation programme to try get cows back in-calf earlier in the season.

When selecting cows that may be suitable for a synchronisation programme, it is important that they are calved a minimum of 30 days.

If done correctly, submission rates should be 100% at the timed artificial insemination (AI) point.

The programme is not cheap, but it should result in a cow calving earlier and thus, higher milk sales.

In spring-calving herds, where all cows are dried in December, late-calvers have lower milk production compared with a February-calved cow producing 6,500L.

  • An April-calving cow produces 900L less;
  • A May-calving cow produces 1,200L less;
  • A June-calving cow produces 1,800L less.

To ensure the programme is successful, it is vital that it is followed. Otherwise it will not work as the timings of these injections are very important.

Image source Teagasc

Furthermore, also of importance for a successful synchronisation programme is consultation with a vet and AI technician. The technician may have a busy schedule and thus organising a time for the injections that suits both you and them is vital.