Video: Maximising the breeding potential on a Co. Carlow dairy farm

Carlow-based dairy farmer, Dan Fanning, milks 105 spring-calving dairy cows just outside Tullow.

The Glanbia supplier began milking 51 cows in 2011 and since then his herd has more than doubled in size.

Discussing the breeding policy and performance of his herd, Dan said: “I originally bought 51 Holstein heifers crossing them to British Friesian bulls.

“We operate a relatively closed herd, buying in very little stock, while also keeping all calves on the farm. Currently, cows are averaging 6,000L per annum at 4.02% fat and 3.46% protein,” he said.

2017 breeding season kicks into gear

Breeding on Fanning’s farm commenced on April 15 and he is using five well-bred AI sires, which have been selected mainly on fertility traits.

We are AI for three weeks, using straws from Progressive Genetics. After that, we let out the bulls.

“When selecting a bull we would have always gone for milk, but now we place a greater focus on fertility,” he explained.

Performance, nutrition and health

Dan explained that, post-calving, each cow is given 5kg of GAIN Spring Breeder per day.

“It’s a 14% dairy nut which we started using last year and have found that it worked extremely well. We saw higher conception rates right across the milking herd.

“Quality nutrition ensures that cows are performing well, bulling at the right time and maximising milk production,” he said.

By using GAIN Spring Breeder, Dan is confident that his herd is in optimum condition for the breeding season.

“GAIN Spring Breeder contains all the essential minerals and ingredients to ensure that my cows come in heat on time, go in-calf first time and don’t miss any of the important dates.”

Technical support

Dan also said that Sean Jackson, a GAIN Animal Nutrition Business Manager, visits the farm regularly and is always available to offer any technical advice that may be needed.

“It is very reassuring to know that the resource is there when it is needed.

“If ever a problem arises, I can give Sean a call and we can discuss a plan of action to find a solution. Sean is always available on the phone.”

The Carlow-based farmer believes that the spring breeding and management plan that is currently in place has been a key factor in optimising fertility performance within the herd.

For GAIN’s Sean Jackson, the major challenge facing dairy farmers over the next two months is getting cows back in-calf.

“Reproductive efficiency is a function of nutrition intake, management, output and genetics.

A high submission rate, together with high conception rates, is essential.

Before and during the breeding season, he said, it’s essential to ensure the nutrient intake of the cow is adequate to meet her needs.

“By feeding GAIN Spring Breeder you are meeting the cows’ energy requirements, building the immune system and optimising fertility performance,” he concluded. Click here for more information on GAIN Spring Breeder