Start bulling now!

MOOREPARK has shown February calving to be E6,500 more profitable per 100,000 gallons than March or January calving. February calvers produce 414 kgs milk solids compared to 375 kgs milk solids per cow for the March calvers. If you start AI on April calving will commence at the end of January 2012. For wet farms delay the start of breeding by one week.

MOOREPARK has shown February calving to be E6,500 more profitable per 100,000 gallons than March or January calving. February calvers produce 414 kgs milk solids compared to 375 kgs milk solids per cow for the March calvers. If you start AI on April calving will commence at the end of January 2012. For wet farms delay the start of breeding by one week.

The target mean calving date for dry farms is February 14; most cows should be in calf by May 7. On wet land the mean calving date is February 24th with most cows in calf by May 18th. The target number of days from start of calving to mid calving date is 15 days. You can find out the number of days from start of calving to the mid calving date for your herd by checking the calving report on the ICBF web site. Then subtract the days for your herd from the target mean calving date to determine the start date for the breeding season for your herd. If you start too early with a fertile herd, you will not have enough grass and so you will have to feed more meals. If you start too late ,you will loose significant money.

The mean calving date nationally is 14th March and Moorepark have shown that even at low milk prices moving this to the 15th February will be €6,000 more profitable for 100,000 gallons. Every missed heat costs you €100

It is very difficult to identify bulling cows as:

Each standing mount only lasts 2-3 seconds.

The average number of mounts by Holstein-Friesians and heifers is 11.

Bulling lasts 3-30 hours, averaging 11 hours.

So, you only have a window of 25-40 seconds over the whole bulling period (including night time) to identify bulling cows. If you miss her, you have lost €80-€100. Use of heat detection devices is essential. Only 59% of farmers use them which shows amazing lack of commitment to making sure of a successful breeding season.There are many heat detection devices available and they all work so there is no excuse for not selecting the one that suits your circumstances best. Tail paint with non drip household emulsion at a cost of 20-25 cents per cow for the season. Specialised tail paints with brush on bottle costing €1 per cow for the season (very effective and not messy) Aerosol sprays, costing 30-80 cents per cow. Kamars, costing €1.20 each.

Paint sticks, costing 15 cents per cow or so every time it is put on.

‘Scratch cards’.

Vasectomised bull, but do not use him until 5-6 weeks into the breeding season as he will be ‘murdered’. You still have time to get the vet to ‘fix up’ an uncastrated yearling. They are worth anything late in the season.

To convince you on the paint, the following research data is worth remembering. If 90%-100% of the paint is removed, then there is a 95% chance the cow is bulling. Even if 50% of the paint is removed there is a 70% chance she is bulling. So, you should bull cows when more than half the paint is gone. To avoid error it is essential to put on the paint correctly. A 9 inch long by 2 inch wide strip should be painted against the hair from the top of tail head forward. If it is wider or longer than this you will be confused if some paint is removed. Come down a bit on the tail head for heifers but definitely not for cows.

Pick the highest EBI bulls

The 2012 calves will have great potential because of the quality of AI bulls available. Use the ICBF active bull list. Use AI bulls of over €190 EBI on all cows, good, bad or indifferent. If your cows have low genetic potential for milk use high EBI bulls with 150-200 kgs milk but don’t let the fertility go below €90. Because protein is so valuable, you should use AI bulls that lift % protein by 0.06% and more. When using genomic bulls use a team of 5 bulls to overcome the problem of low reliability when compared to proven bulls.

Use bulls to suit your herd and farm situation (light cow on wet soil) but big cows won’t deliver in the future on any land type.

Cross breeding has financial merit. Consider it very seriously if:

o You have an infertile herd.

o You have wet land and you want a small efficient number of cows.

o You have herd health problems (use Norwegian red).

Jerseys and Norwegian reds are the main bulls for this purpose. Research shows cross-breeding with Jerseys improves profit per cow by €180 over Holstein Friesian. Using a stock bull will lose you €80 - €100 per year for every cow in your herd.

Synchronise replacement heifers

To achieve compact calving it is essential that the heifers calve one week before the cow herd. This allows heifers settle-in in the milking parlour. It also allows for the fact that cows generally lose 4-5 days from one calving to the next over their life cycle. A cow on her 5th calf is likely to calve 3-4 weeks later than she did as a heifer.

One common and successful programme for synchronising heifers is as follows:

Day 1:Tail Paint. Day 1-6: Bull heifers seen on heat.Day 7: Inject non-bulled heifers with 2cc Prostaglandin.

Day 8-11: Most heifers will come bulling and should be served. This works really well if heifers are heavy enough.

Important Kilkenny Events

A Teagasc Spring Crop Walk will take place on Monday April 18th at 10.30am. The tillage fields will be sign posted at Danesfort on the main Kilkenny Waterford road. The topics for discussion include disease diagnosis and control strategies, weed control and fertiliser requirements. All are welcome.

A Teagasc dairy farm walk will take place on the farm of Billy and Liam Heffernan, Caherleske, Dunamaggin, Co. Kilkenny on Tuesday April 19th at 11.00am. The Heffernan farm has been a monitor farm and part of the Teagasc Glanbia joint programme for the last 3 years. The farm walk will focus on grassland management with a particular emphasis on April reseeding as well as the planning and location of new milking facilities. There will also be information on the dairy equipment scheme and on bull selection for the current breeding season. This event is an approved event for the Dairy Efficiency Programme. All are welcome.