Benefits of fertility management emphasised

In Armagh at the MSD Animal Health meeting for veterinary practitioners on Managing Fertility in Dairy Herds were, from left: Paul Fegan, Newry Veterinary Centre; Prof Paul Fricke, University of Wisconsin, guest speaker and Fergal Morris, MSD Animal Health.
In Armagh at the MSD Animal Health meeting for veterinary practitioners on Managing Fertility in Dairy Herds were, from left: Paul Fegan, Newry Veterinary Centre; Prof Paul Fricke, University of Wisconsin, guest speaker and Fergal Morris, MSD Animal Health.

There are many management and lifestyle benefits to be gained by taking control of dairy herd fertility with an aggressive reproductive management strategy, even at low milk prices.

That was the message delivered by Professor Paul Fricke from the University of Wisconsin-Madison to a group of vets recently, at a meeting organised by MSD Animal Health on the subject of maximising fertility in expanding dairy herds.

Introducing the session, Director of the MSD Animal Health Ruminant Business Unit, Fergal Morris, referred to the poor economic circumstances facing dairy farmers as they struggled to cope with global milk prices below the cost of production.

“There are growing pressures on the industry to reduce its carbon footprint, and output per cow is the only way to achieve this on a per litre basis. Fertility management is at the centre of sustainable production and profitability, irrespective of cow type or production system,” he said.

Results from research recently carried out at Wisconsin-Madison University showed that adopting an aggressive reproductive management strategy based on hormone synchronisation protocols can result in excellent pregnancy rates of around 60% and significantly reduced calving intervals.

“Some dairy farmers may consider fertility management as a cost they need to reduce, whereas the reality is that the cost of failing to take control of herd fertility will be far greater. A comprehensive fertility management system will benefit any dairy herd – not only will it maximise pregnancy rates and reduce culling rates, it will also reduce the labour intensive task of heat detection and effectively deal with cows which aren’t ovulating.

“Overall the impact on farm profitability and farm family lifestyle is very positive.

“Some element of synchronisation is advisable and I would urge dairy farmers to speak to their vets about the best approach,” Fergal concluded.