Fertility – The hot topic on the Genus stand at the Winter Fair

RMS Optimise, targeted use of synchronisation, transition cow health, heifer rearing, sexed genetics and the use of the British Friesian breed for cross breeding.

Friday, 27th December 2019, 8:45 am
Steph Doherty and Ervin McKinstry, Genus ABS with Stuart Smith, Prehen Holsteins, Londonderry on the Genus ABS stand at the Royal Ulster Winter Fair. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

These were just some of the extensive range of topics that ensured a very busy Genus ABS stand at the Winter Fair.

In fact the company’s special Fertility Clinic within the stand created so much interest that many dairy farmers booked an appointment in advance to ensure that they had an opportunity to speak to Jon Mouncey, European Technical Services Vet and Simon Logan, RMS Manager with Genus ABS in Northern Ireland.

Jon Mouncey highlighted the opportunities, using RMS Optimise, for farmers to increase pregnancy rates, and the impact that this has on the dairy herd. He explained: “ The average pregnancy rate for dairy herds in Northern Ireland is 13% but farmers who participate in the RMS Optimise program have an average fertility rate of 21%.”

The Genus ABS stand at the RUAS Winter Fair. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

What difference does that make to the dairy enterprise?

Jon emphasised: “The difference between a 13% pregnancy rate and a 21% rate in a 120 cow herd is £19,200, due to more milk sales, more calf sales and reduced replacement costs as there are less cows to cull due to poor fertility.”

He added: “Another way to look at the economics is to look at beef calf sales. At the national average pregnancy rate of 13%, herds are barely sustaining themselves, so have a limited number of beef calf sales but plenty of low value Friesian bull calves.”

Simon Logan, RMS Manager for Genus ABS in Northern Ireland, further outlined the implications for this 120 cow herd in Northern Ireland. He explained: “Over the last 12 years Genus ABS has been able to benchmark the fertility performance of RMS herds. These herds consistently out perform the NMR 500 herd analysis, which is the only large data set in the UK, with which to make comparisons.”

Gareth Bell, Genus ABS with Andy, Thomas, Lesley and Colin Hamill from Crumlin on the Genus ABS stand at the RUAS Winter Fair. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Simon produced figures which showed that the 120 cow herd will need 33 heifers to sustain the herd.

Using Sexcel semen to generate these heifers should leave the herd with 70+ beef calves to sell from easy calving British Blues, which will generate in the region of £14,000+. These economics coupled with the generation of high genetic merit heifers from the world leading bovine genetics supplied by Genus ABS, makes RMS Optimise the number one choice for the fertility management of the dairy herd.

Jon Mouncey added: “In addition to these financial benefits there is also a labour and management element in that RMS Optimise means that Genus ABS is looking after the fertility aspects of the herd and providing detailed management statistics which not only saves labour on the farm but also provides valuable management information which assists with future enterprise planning.”

Friesian Breeding Specialist, Bill Foster had an equally busy Winter Fair, again with a lot interest in fertility.

William Johnston and son Andrew, Lack, Enniskillen with Russell McCourt, Genus ABS on the Genus stand at the Winter Fair. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

He reported: “Farmers wanted information on using British Friesian for cross breeding on Holsteins. The number one reason for crossbreeding is to improve daughter fertility, so why not utilise, the Friesian, the most fertile breed in the world? The Friesian is also the number one breed for lifespan, producing cows that last longer than any other breed.”

Bill Foster emphasised: “In the present economic climate there are two other advantages that will attract dairy farmers.

“Firstly the Friesian will produce a valuable bull calf from Holstein cows. Secondly, farmers are trying to maximise returns from grassland and the Friesian is tailor made for this purpose.”

Paul Nunn, European Production Manager, warned that it is important to ensure that all of the fertility effort is not negated by poor silage quality, mastitis and high cell counts. He was on hand to offer advice on these aspects of the dairy enterprise.

Chatting on the Genus ABS stand at the Winter Fair are from left: Colin and Brian Annett, Hillsborough and Richard Walker, Genus ABS. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

In addition to all the serious genetic and management discussions, farmers and their families also enjoyed a welcome cup of tea on the Genus ABS stand. Ervin McKinstry, Dynamics Market Director with Genus ABS was delighted with the response and interest from farmers and the opportunity to chat with them away from the busy environment on the farm.

Steph Doherty, Genus ABS chatting to John McCormick, Bangor and sons Tom and Sam on the Genus ABS stand at the Royal Ulster Winter Fair. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Aidan, Oisin and Brian McAfee, Aghadowey with John Sayers and Ian Watson, Genus ABS on the Genus ABS stand at the Winter Fair. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Chatting about herd fertility on the Genus ABS stand at the Winter Fair were from left: Robert Agnew, Annalong; Simon Logan, Genus ABS; Jon Mouncey, Genus ABS and Edward Agnew, Annalong. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
James Woods, left and Russell McCourt, Genus ABS are pictured with Stephen and Susanne Jackson, Bangor with daughters Abie and Emma on the Genus ABS stand at the RUAS Winter Fair. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Brian McAfee, Aghadowey chats to John Sawyers, Genus ABS on the Genus ABS stand at the RUAS Winter Fair. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie