It is far too expensive! But you do have to invest to accumulate

It is amazing that so many farmers when offered a solution that costs money immediately react with this comment. But you do have to invest to accumulate.

Admittedly some purchases such as a brand new tractor give immediate satisfaction and the farmer can see exactly what he is buying from the moment he parts with his money.

Simon Logan, Genus ABS, discusses the benefits of RMS and Sexcel with James Martin, who runs a dairy herd at Banbridge with his father, Sam.

Simon Logan, Genus ABS, discusses the benefits of RMS and Sexcel with James Martin, who runs a dairy herd at Banbridge with his father, Sam.

But purchasing semen from top quality sires, a comprehensive breeding and management advice service and physical help with inseminations are an unknown until experience illustrates otherwise.

In this instance the “switched on” farmer will study all available evidence and apply this to his own herd to decide if this is the way forward for his enterprise. He may also talk to other farmers who are already using the system to hear about their experience.

In other words he will evaluate the purchase fully before parting with his money. So let’s look at the evidence!

It is an established fact that increased fertility on dairy farms is a major aim due to this contribution to profit margins and herd management, yet so many farms struggle to achieve the improvement they desire. The lack of strong heat expression in today’s high yielding dairy cow combined with the scarcity of labour on farms and time pressures on the farmer himself mean that a lot of farmers cannot avail of this financial opportunity.

If someone offered to take full charge of the reproductive management of your herd and achieve these improvements for you, you would be sceptical. Yet over 120 herds which milk 34,000 cows in Northern Ireland use such a service - RMS provided by Genus ABS, which, they claim, not only helps with fertility management but has also resulted in better overall management and financial planning of the enterprise.

Genus ABS has benchmarked their farms to provide fertility KPIs for Northern Ireland. James Woods, RMS Manager with Genus ABS points out that when compared to other benchmarking figures* across the UK, RMS is outperforming the KPIs quite significantly. The average pregnancy rates in the UK farms are at 14% RMS, farms in NI are averaging 20%. Pregnancy Rate is the measure of how fast your herd is going in calf and is the golden measure in terms of fertility KPIs. Genus ABS has now a proven track record in reproductive management and is now in its eleventh year of providing the service to the Northern Ireland dairy farmer. Twenty five professionally trained technicians operate right across the province offering this service to every medium/large sized herd in the country.

But that is only part of the story. Ervin McKinstry Manager, Ireland with Genus ABS explains: “We have spent a number of years perfecting innovative technology which has produced semen that has resulted in an increase in conception rates. We then trialled this technology on farms throughout Europe and were delighted to witness its success. The net result was that Sexcel was launched and is now in use on farms.”

He added: “Thus farmers enjoy the benefits of sexed semen from leading sires and with the increased conception rates can have extra high quality heifers to sell at a premium if they wish. Add to this the mating service provided which matches sires to individual cows and the farmer’s targets for the herd, and it ensures that conformation, longevity, health, production and milk quality can all benefit. So that’s the evidence for the prospective customer but we did mention that he may wish to speak to farmers already using the system.”

Sam and James Martin, farm near Banbridge, Co Down, milking 350 cows and started RMS in January 2017. James says: “We were doing all we could, making the best silage, using a nutritionist and regular vet visits. We even employed the use of a local inseminator but we weren’t achieving the results. We decided to start RMS. We knew it meant an extra investment but we hoped that the benefits would come in time. We immediately saw benefits to the system, our projected Calving Interval dropped and we had detailed day to day cow management information.

“We are now 17 months on RMS and our results are better than expected. We have seen a rise in daily milk yields by 3 litres a cow. We started with the aim to grow our herd from within. We started using Genus ABS new Sexcel product on our heifers and then decided to try it on the milking herd. We were pleasantly surprised at the results and have been using Sexcel across the entire herd now for the first two services. Sexcel has given us the ability to generate a lot of potential herd increases for the future without the added risk of buying in disease.”

He added: “Our RMS technician, David McCord, walks and chalks the herd at the same time every day monitoring heats and then inseminating the relevant animals. The staff on the farm could never devote the time and attention to detail that the technician does. Results are recorded and analysed and used for future planning. It is an excellent service where the benefits far outweigh the costs.”

Farmers who wish to have an initial discussion about the RMS service without obligation can contact their local Genus Breeding Advisor or the office on 02838 334426.

*NMR 500 farms