News & Advice

So how well did your herd get in calf in 2018-2019 compared to the rest of the district?

May 8, 2019 | Dairy, Dairy Farm Reproduction

Katrina Roberts, Herd Health Veterinarian, Anexa Vets

With feeding cows and young stock taking up all your waking hours for the last couple of months, you may not have had time to reflect on how well your cows got in calf. Hopefully things are getting a little easier now you have dried off, and I challenge you to stop and review how things went. The classic quote “If you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got” springs to mind.

The overall 6-week in-calf rate for the Anexa Vet Services herds, that pregnancy tested with us, was up compared with last season (72% from 70%). This is the 2nd season in a row with an increase in 6-week in-calf rate and in fact is the best result in 15 years! However, the empty rate after 77days of mating has been consistent over the last 5 years at around 12%. 20% of these farmers are achieving at or above the national target of 78% 6-week in-calf rate, which is an exceptional result and shows that it is definitely possible!

The repro awards will be announced at a function in winter, but if you are wondering, you will need to have achieved a 6-week in-calf rate of over 82%, combined with an empty rate of under 10% in less than 10 weeks of mating

Split calving or autumn calving herds 

Those of you who are now split calving, or have completely swapped to autumn calving, may want to know if we’ve looked at the difference. This season, there were enough autumn and split calvers in the system to review the numbers (about 30- 40 herds). The cows (mobs) that were mated in the autumn had a lower 6-week in-calf rate (64% v 72% in spring), the mating periods were about 2 weeks shorter (65 days v 77 days in spring), and the empty rate was double (24% v 12% in spring). The top performing autumn mating herd achieved 76% 6-week in-calf rate. There may be many reasons for the differing performance in this group of cows and herds, however being a split calving or autumn calving herd does not preclude you from achieving great results, and the economics of improving your herd reproductive performance are still considerable

Yearling performance 

There were more mobs in the analysis this year, but still only a very small proportion of our clients’ heifers. The average mating length was 74 days, which was 3 days shorter than last year. The average empty rate was down to 5% this season, which is a much more promising result in yearlings (last year it was 10%) and the average 6-week in-calf rate was 85%.
So now you know the numbers, I encourage you to consider where you sit relative to the average and top 25% and how close is this to where you want to be?

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