Breeding season will be getting underway on many Spring calving herds over the coming weeks. It is time to start getting prepared, here are our steps to get ready and ensure a successful season:
Out to Grass
Have cows turned out to grass, if possible a few weeks in advance of breeding. Spring grass is a high-quality feed and will help ensure cows are hitting their BCS target at breeding. Having cows out early will also give them a chance to adapt from their winter diet to a grazing diet, so they are well settled by the time breeding gets underway.
Track and record cows that are cycling ahead of breeding, so you have an idea when they are due to cycle again if using AI. Any cows that had a difficult calving or are not showing signs of heat can be scanned and examined by a vet to identify any issues then put on a programme to get them cycling.
Getting the Bull Ready
If running a stock-bull it is time to give him a pre-season inspection to make sure he is in top shape ahead of a busy few months of breeding. Check the bull’s physical fitness, make sure he is good on his legs and feet, walking freely with no issues. Make sure the bull has no issues with his testicles or penis, a pre-breeding fertility test is also a good idea to make sure his is producing viable sperm.
Selecting AI Bulls
If using AI it is time to select which bulls are going to be used across the different cows in the herd. Bulls with a good replacement value and maternal traits can be selected to use on the top performing cows in the herd to produce replacement heifers, terminal sires can be used on cows where calves will be sold or brought to beef. Consider calving difficulty of sires being used especially in the case of maiden heifers.
Make sure cows are covered for trace elements, a mineral deficiency can lead a delay in the return to cycling or poor conception rates. Supplementation can be provided in the form of a bolus, lick bucket or an oral drench.
Consider how you intend to cover heat detection this breeding season. If visually observing you will need to allocate at least four 20-minute periods daily to watch cows for signs of heat, the best times being early in the morning or late evening. Heat detection aids are becoming ever more popular to make the task easier, improve performance and reduce the labour required.
A vasectomised bull fitted with a Moocall Heat collar has proven to increase submission rates and reduce the number of missed heats, while saving on the time spent visually observing cows for signs of heat. Moocall HEAT sends a message to the farmer once the vasectomised bull detects a cow in standing heat giving an optimum time to serve the cow.
For further advice on any of the above, please contact a member of the Moocall team to speak to some of our breeding specialists on +353 1 96 96 038 or email email@example.com