Mating for your autumn-calving cows can be tricky; a couple of areas to focus on are:
- Heat detection – is potentially harder in winter. The days are getting shorter not longer. The weather is often unfavourable for cows showing signs of heat let alone you doing paddock checks. Cows are often spending a long period of time off pasture on concrete, which is not a good place to show signs of heat. Often the cows to be mated in the autumn are only a small number of cows, which means the sexually active groups are small.So all this just means you have to work smarter – use more heat detection aids, ensure you are touching up tail paint very regularly, do more frequent paddock checks, maybe do less AB and swap to natural mating earlier than you intended (but check that your bull power is adequate for this), consider intervention with non-cyclers as late calving autumn cows won’t be producing at peak next season when the premium starts.
- Feeding during mating – keep an eye on your protein test as it is a good indicator of energy balance; as we come off peak milk a climbing protein test indicates the cows are in increasing energy balance. There is good evidence that associates higher milk protein test with better reproductive performance both within herds and between herds. However, with our autumn herds you’ll struggle to find a herd climbing in protein test during June and July. The aim is for your protein test to be flat, definitely not dropping. On wet, cold, windy days the maintenance requirements will increase, intakes will drop and milk production will drop, but not as much as it needs to compensate for the higher requirements and lower intakes. Therefore, increasing the energy density of the diet in adverse weather will help to flatten out not only your production curve but also your protein test and therefore sustain your submission and conception rates through these climatic conditions.
If you have autumn calving cows and would like some advice, contact your local Anexa Vet clinic, many of our Vets are also InCalf Advisors, with a sound knowledge in reproduction they are ready to work with you, to come up solutions that work for your farm.