Dairy farmers are totally focused on milk price, an aspect of their business which is so discouraging at the moment. They could improve their situation by taking a closer look at their management system and costs.
For example, do they know the pregnancy rate on the farm? Do they realise that an increase in that figure could have a beneficial impact on the overall profitability of their enterprise. Unfortunately some farmers do not know this figure and do not have an analysis of their herd records which would provide this data.
They are losing out on a golden opportunity to increase their income according to James Woods, Reproduction Services Manager with Genus ABS. James points out that the average calving interval in Northern Ireland herds is 428 days which equates to a pregnancy rate of 12%. Each 1% increase in pregnancy rate is equivalent to £25/cow/year. If Northern Ireland could even increase this pregnancy rate by a modest 4% to 16% it would mean an extra £100/cow/year, which in the average Northern Ireland 90 cow herd would be £9,000.
He added: “A high Pregnancy Rate means that the farm will be milking a higher proportion of fresh cows, which in turn increases yields and feed efficiency.”
James went on to explain that the pregnancy rate for the top 25% of cows in Genus’ RMS (Reproduction Management System) system in Northern Ireland is 24%.
If a farmer with 200 cows could move from a 14% pregnancy rate to the top RMS rate of 24% it would be worth £50,000 per year. Allowing for an average cost of the system of £8000 this still means an increase in income of £42,000.
James emphasised: “If a farmer only considers cost then a figure of £8000 seems a large sum, but as I pointed out earlier he must also consider the results.”
The RMS system involves an expert technician checking the cows daily and inseminating at the optimum time.
The important aspects for improving pregnancy rate are heat detection and data collection and analysis. Farmers are often amazed that an experienced technician can detect more heats in a once a day visit than they, who are working with the herd, can detect.
The collection of data and its analysis is vital. Key statistics are useless if their impact cannot be analysed, quantified and the results utilised on farm. This is a very important aspect of the RMS system - the detailed information and analysis that is provided.
James emphasised: “Increased pregnancy rates will not only mean increased yields but will also mean more replacements, more bull calf sales, better culling policies and better breeding decisions.”
James can be contacted on 077 7222 7886.