Tedion Farm, Narbeth, Pembrokeshire

Focus Site Event: Fertility in block calving systems 

 

To be a true block calving system the fertility and condition of your cows is paramount.  It is important to know your figures and percentages. Kate Burnby spoke how best to ensure the best block calving for your farm.

 

Key messages

Benchmarking is important to the management of block calving systems, and basic information is needed to ensure targets are reached.  The group shared their basic fertility data:

  • % calved at 6 weeks
  • Mid calving date
  • Milk fats
  • Milk proteins

Tedion host, Laura Elliott shared their calving information based on the 2016/17 calving seasons which were broken down into lactations.  All the farmers offered their own experiences of how they are achieving specific targets and all highlighted areas they could improve. 

It is important that farmers know their own targets, what the industry standard is, how the top performers are reaching their targets and what is actually achievable in block calving systems.  Benchmarking is a great way to do this, as it sets these standards and gives farmers a target to work towards.

Body condition scoring is important to cow management and during the meeting farmers took part in a practical session. Kate Burnby highlighted that a lot of her work could be managed by regular body condition monitoring and improved colostrum management.

The benefits of good fertility management - reducing the calving period and interval ensured great benefits of more days in milk, improved batch management and focused labour, which result in cost savings and better calves

It is important to have a fertility/ mating checklist and to;

  • Ensure bull semen has been ordered, or that you have the bull numbers on farm and that the bull has received an MOT and that the cows have been Metrichecked before service. 
  • Have a pre-mating action plan to identify the non-bullers – speak to the vet to take action.
  • Heat detection is especially important when using AI.
  • Calving Target setting – aim for 90% of herd to calve in 6 weeks, and reaching halfway point by 20 days.
  • Have an Action Plan of how to deal with difficult calving’s

Having a simple check list on farm is important to ensure everyone is working towards the same goal of improving cow fertility and calving rate.  It is too easy to let information get lost.

 

Take away message

Ensure you know your fertility and calving data, it can save you money.  Have a fertility checklist and Action Plans, that everyone on the farm is working towards.  By carrying out regular body condition scoring and having improved colostrum management you will start to see improvements in your calves and cows. 

With thanks to our keynote speaker – Kate Burnby and Tedion Farm hosts, Laura & Cathy Elliot.


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