Emphasis on fertility pays dividends

Danny and Chris Hamilton checking over the most recent on-farm scan results with Conor Loughran, Genus ABS on their farm at Mullahead, Tandragee. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Danny and Chris Hamilton checking over the most recent on-farm scan results with Conor Loughran, Genus ABS on their farm at Mullahead, Tandragee. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Having paid good money to acquire sires that will contribute to the desired improvements in the herd it is important to ensure that the investment is maximised.

These were the thoughts of the Hamilton family in autumn 2016.

Daniel and Christopher farm along with their father, Clive outside Tandragee. Daniel said: “We were getting the type of calves we required but not enough of them, we decided that an improvement in fertility was necessary.”

Daniel went on to say that Conor Loughran from Genus ABS suggested that Genus’ Reproductive Management System (RMS), whereby a technician would walk the cows every day and inseminate them as necessary, would assist with their stated target. They decided to give it a try and by autumn 2017 were achieving a 20% pregnancy rate with super conception rates.

This encouraged them to try Sexcel, the semen produced by ground breaking technology from Genus ABS. Sexcel was intensively trialled throughout Europe before being introduced to the market generally. Since it was introduced in Northern Ireland farmers have reported increased conception rates.

The introduction of Sexcel on the Hamilton farm in 2017 meant that they were now producing the desired number of calves without compromising on fertility. The result has been an average in days open in the herd of 104 and a pregnancy rate of 22% and rising. In addition targets for conformation, longevity, health, milk production and milk quality have all benefited. They have fewer Friesian bull calves and have the option of producing beef bred calves or excess numbers of high quality dairy calves for sale.

Conor Loughran added: “Increased conception rates through the use of Sexcel means that cows are getting in calf more frequently which not only means more animals in milk and better use of valuable semen supplies, but also makes more use of the top quality sires being used.”

Christopher Hamilton commented: “These are not the only benefits from RMS and the Sexcel technology - there is a detailed management and financial planning package with the system which produces so much vital information that can assist with all aspects of the dairy enterprise.”