Slowing down the Dairy Cow Treadmill
With the recent announcement this will be the last season of routine inductions in dairy cattle many farms will need to fast-track changes in their approach to mating.
If we consider the reproductive cycle of a dairy cow as a treadmill; heifers jump on the front of the treadmill (early calving) and slip backwards each year (calving later) before falling off as empty cows. Inductions were a tool that enabled us to catch cows about to fall off the treadmill and bring them back to the front.
So how do we manage late calvers without inductions?
• Shorten up mating length – no late calvers but risks a higher empty rate if nothing else changes
• Sell late calvers in exchange for early calving cows/heifers starting on the front of the treadmill
• Or calve late calvers down - days in milk will take a significant hit.
The alternative is to have fewer cows falling off the treadmill in the first place.This presents a much more sustainable and financially sensible option through effectively slowing the treadmill down. This will achieve a higher 6 week in-calf rate and fewer MT & late cows.
Franklin Vets have encouraged farmers to capture the benefits of a high 6 week in-calf rate for some time now and many of our clients have already seen the value that this brings to their business.
Areas to consider:-
Body condition score your herd regularly between calving and mating
Ask an accredited vet to condition score your herd regularly through this period. Infovet recording, analysis and recommendations will keep your herd on-track.
Perform regular nutrition checks
Create a feed-budget and/or Spring rotation planner with your vet that can be revisited at each visit through Spring.
Take advantage of Franklin Vets free Repro-Ready consults
These free consults provide an opportunity for the farm team to sit-down with their vet and collaboratively plan out an approach to mating.
Treat non-cycling cows early
Use pre-mating tail-paint to identify problem cows early and manage them correctly.
Waiting for non-cyclers to cycle does not pay.
Ensure optimal cow reproductive health
Trace minerals, BVD, metri-checking, optimising general health ie. lameness/mastitis.
Bull fertility testing
Avoid the impact of a faulty bull by fertility testing prior to mating.
Feel free to contact us about the reproductive advisory services we offer. Our free Repro Ready consults prove very popular or you may like to consider the more thorough InCalf Consultancy Service.