Ten years of detailed attention to breeding

Brian McCarron, left, Genus ABS with John and Helen Dugan and sons Bradley and Johnny on their Gilnahirk farm with a Fertility Plus British Blue calf and a Holstein heifer calf by Lars - Acres Shot Trigger. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Brian McCarron, left, Genus ABS with John and Helen Dugan and sons Bradley and Johnny on their Gilnahirk farm with a Fertility Plus British Blue calf and a Holstein heifer calf by Lars - Acres Shot Trigger. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Ten years ago when John and Helen Dugan were carrying out one of their detailed analysis of their dairy business at Gilnahirk, outside Belfast, there were two aspects that they were not totally happy with – getting cows in calf and the slow improvement in the standard of the calves produced.

Brian McCarron from Genus ABS introduced them to RMS (Reproductive Management System) to assist them with their concerns, and ten years later John comments: “The focussed approach to the important job of getting cows in calf and the detailed records that are maintained have made a huge difference.

“Although we have since been joined by our son Johnny in the business and have some part time input from our second son, Bradley, who is still at school, we still do not have the time or analytical resources that Genus ABS have invested in our farm.”

Brian McCarron, reports: “The Dugan herd of 350 cows has a 21 day Pregnancy Rate of 22%, with 60% of the herd currently pregnant, - well above the target of 50% for an all year round calving system and equating to a 394 day calving interval. With Sexcel semen used on 1st and 2nd Calvers, alongside Conventional dairy and beef semen, conception rates are sitting at an impressive 40% to 1st Service, ensuring that the herd is generating large numbers of replacements, with surplus heifers regularly sold.”

With meticulous attention to detail in the calf rearing enterprise, this also means that there is, not only excess quality heifers for sale, but also a continuous supply of excellent quality BB calves to satisfy demand from many, very satisfied customers, who have been buying calves direct off the farm for many years. Genus ABS GMS program is used to identify individual matings for each cow thus ensuring that a wide selection of beneficial traits which are individual to each cow are maximised. Sires currently being used in both Sexcel and conventional semen are SB Stardust, DS Spectre, R Spock, ABS Eldridge plus ABS Achiever.

Johnny Dugan commented: “The focussed approach that the RMS system allows for getting cows in calf is a great boost to the dairy enterprise. The qualified technician who calls every day to check for cows in heat and to AI daily as needed, has unique skills in heat detection and AI techniques. This results in better pregnancy rates, which means more cows in milk and ultimately more milk plus extra heifers or BB calves to sell. There are often not the resources on today’s dairy farms to devote that amount of time to reproductive management, never mind the professional skills needed.”

Johnny went on to say that the detailed record keeping not only helps with forward planning but also highlights any potential problems allowing them to be rectified before they actually occur.

Any farmer who would like to have further information about the RMS system, Genus sires, GMS etc. should contact their Genus representative or phone the office on 02838 331451.