Fertility programme for individual cows

Blair Jameson, left, and Paul Marrs, Genus ABS highlight some of the  successful breeding figures for the dairy herd
Blair Jameson, left, and Paul Marrs, Genus ABS highlight some of the successful breeding figures for the dairy herd

Improved herd fertility was the main aim when Blair Jameson from Broughshane investigated the various options for improving productivity and thus profit margin from his dairy herd.

He said: “Statistics show that every 1% increase in pregnancy rate is worth £25.00 per cow per year. 100 cows moving from the Northern Ireland average of 14% to a 24% pregnancy rate would be worth £25,000 and as milk prices increase that would be an even greater figure. I felt that if I could achieve even a modest increase in fertility it would improve the profit margin from my herd.”

He continued: “I looked at a number of techniques and systems and noted that the Genus ABS Breeder Tags used a unique technology whereby data is updated every six minutes, 24 hours a day and is transmitted wirelessly, removing the need for cows to pass by a data collection point. With the option to have a range of up to two km the system is also well suited for grazing cows and is ideal for use on bulling heifers.”

In August 2015, Blair decided to install the Breeder Tag system, so that it was in place in time for the start of breeding in his autumn calving herd in December. The aim is to start breeding in December and finish at turnout to grass. He put the tags on the milking herd only and was well pleased when this resulted in a 72% average conception to first service - one of the main factors was that it reduced days open to first service dramatically and gave a huge increase in finding cows with marginal heats.

Blair went on to say that in addition to measuring activity, the pedometer collects extra information including step count and lying time. Together these give a more accurate overall analysis of behaviour and better determination of heat. A further benefit is the fact that the details are analysed in a comprehensive back up package which allows the farmer to assess progress and to see further opportunities for improvement. He added: “It is not only the fertility programme that is analysed but health aspects which may need attention are also highlighted by the graphs provided.”

Paul Marrs from Genus ABS explained: “The regular updating of information lets farmers keep a really close eye on performance and make more timely decisions. By making effective use of all the data, farmers have increased heat detection rate and accuracy, leading to reduced calving to first service and calving to conception intervals. In addition, they have managed to avoid the losses associated with missed heats, delayed service and serving cows that are already in calf but showing signs of apparent heat.”

After witnessing the success in the dairy herd Blair Jameson decided in December 2016 to place Breeder Tags on 34 heifers that were due for insemination. He reported: “The heifers were all served in 12 weeks, and results were 34 pregnancies from 46 straws, a 1.35 straw average from sexed semen. The use of Breeder Tags gave us the better window of opportunity for optimum service time, therefore getting better results from Sexation.”

Paul Marrs points out that Genus ABS Breeder Tag is a complete herd management programme, which is very accurate and simple to use . The animals that are due for insemination will be outlined on a ready to serve list which can also be accessed from a smart phone, via the use of Teamviewer, thus giving a farmer the option of knowing what is happening on the farm without being at the computer.

Genus ABS provides expert advice to help farmers get the most from the data produced from the system, combining it with other data sources to increase the focus on serving the right cow at the right time and improving management decisions. The management information obtained can be shared with the nutritionist and the vet so that everyone is working to the same goals and can input their particular expertise where necessary.

Farmers who use the Breeder Tag System also have access to the Genus ABS’ GMS breeding programme which matches sires to each individual cow so that all aspects of production, health and conformation are maximised, thus ensuring they are not only improving pregnancy rates but also breeding the most suitable cows for their business.

For further information on Genus ABS Breeder Tags or the GMS system, contact your Genus ABS representative or phone the office on 028 3833 1451.