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October 2010 - Posts

  • Norwegian Reds

    Visited a client in North Tipperary with a commercial Friesian Herd which included a group of Norwegian Reds.  Norwegian Reds were imported as part of a research programme  with Teagasc.  The client’s opinion on the animals is very poor in terms of overall performance.  The fertility in the animals was acceptable but milk production overall was poor with no major advantage on solids.  He considers them to be glorified short horn cows.  The farm manager informed me that they never had foot or mastitis problems.  However, they were very aggressive and created a lot of problems in terms of bulling in the herd. Dr.Dan Ryan @  


  • Records differ

    On  a call this morning with a dairy herd  in County Limerick.  The client presented 70 cows.  The bull had been with the cows up to a month ago and breeding began on April 20th.  It amazed me how different our records were from his records in terms of both AI and recorded heats.  He wanted to cull cows that were empty and he had presumed 5 cows to be empty which were scanned pregnant today.  In addition there were 4 cows which he had presumed pregnant which were in a deep anoestrus state because of previous stress be it calving or nutritional factors.  The lining of the womb showed evidence of severe necrosis and no ovarian activity.  The client planned to induce all those cows that were calving after April 15th.  In his opinion, it is a better procedure than culling the cow if she had failed to go in calf after the first week of July which would be the norm for April 15th calving date.

    Dr.Dan Ryan @
  • Paradise of Ireland

    Travelled down this evening to the atlantic ocean below Ballyferriter , Co Kerry.  Storms are blowing in and it has been a very wet evening as I face into a herd of dairy cows out by ferriters cove.  You can picture the scene here with a group of people all assisting to get the job done and a true welcome met me en route down here with a ‘phone call asking me if I wanted a  stew before or after the scanning.  I replied I would do the job first and would tuck into the stew afterwards.  I always find it nice to come down and stay overnight here and not to have to rush away from what I would call the ‘’paradise of Ireland’’. Dr.Dan Ryan @  


  • Empty rate with a 20 week breeding period less than 10%.

    Visited a farm outside Cashel, County Tipperary with over 150 milking cows.  The empty rate  with a 20 week breeding period was just below 10%.  This was considered very acceptable on the basis of  the fact that cows had to walk 1.9 kms on a daily basis to a plot of land distanced from the main unit for a period of 2 months during the summer.  There were very foot problems amongst the cows and their BCS was excellent overall.  The main genotype cow pertaining on the herd  was off British Friesian extraction.  In my opinion, Holstein cows would not be able to tolerate this type of walking when compared with the British Firesian cow.

    Dr.Dan Ryan @


  • Stock bulls used for mop up breeding

    Stock bulls used to mop up breeding  programmes results in very poor records for due dry off dates. There is a phenomenal need for the use of ultrasonography to generate accurate ageing of pregnancies  with herds in the North of Ireland where AI is used while cows are managed indoors during the winter months. When cows go to grass in April, stock bulls are released with the cows and management of cows does not result in accurate heat detection and recording of same.  It is amazing how many  of the cows scanned pregnant have dates radically different to that recorded by the farmer having used AI for the winter months.


    Dr Dan Ryan @

  • Northern Ireland farm visits

    Visited a client this morning with a pedigree Simmental herd  in County Armagh.  He has a stock bull which resulted in semen sales over 22,000 stg in the past year.  Straws from this bull have gone across all mainland Europe.On calls around Portadown today with dairy farmers who were happy with the current milk prices of 26 pence sterling although cost of inputs has increased which has reduced the margin per litre of milk produced.  They are still ahead of where they were this time  last year in terms of milk price.  Stock sales for pedigree freshly calved heifers is excellent with prices received by one of our clients in the last sale in Moira ranging from 1600 to 2350 sterling.  Dr. Dan @


  • The Shed stadium of light

    On a call in County Laois with a dairy herd under the expansion programme.  They have built a new facility to house 300 cows.  The  clients have to be commended on this state of the art facility which facilitates excellent cow comfort and air-flow in the house and an excellent feed space for all cows.  The working areas are kept clean by continous scrapping facilities and animals are walk on slatts.  It was interesting to see the use of light in the facility.  The locals have named the new building ‘’ the shed stadium of light’’.  This house aims to supply 200 Luxs’s of light at eye level which maximizes potential for milk production in cows.

    Dr Dan @
  • Sexed Jersey Semen

    Visited a client outside Clonakilty using sexed Jersey semen to produce cross-bred heifers from his Holstein heifers which were not sufficiently well grown to fit into an early Spring calving grass based system. He finds that the Jerseys have very easy calvings and that the heifers recover very quickly after calving without any set-backs and as a result continue to grow in frame size. Dr.Dan Ryan @
  • Obstacles to farm expansion

    Visited a client outside Galway today. The client has approx 80 milking cows. He is looking to expand in order to maintain a standard of living in line with the proposals for a 50% increase in milk production by the year 2020. He informed me that he has 3 main barriers: bordered on the side by Lough Derg, by a bog , farm fragmentation and neighbours. He put it aptly in this life you do need your neighbours as social isolation at farm level leaves its own complications without forcing yourself into a situation of isolation by large farm size and large numbers of stock without the ability to maintain the stockmanship skills to look after them properly. Dr Dan Ryan
  • Empty rate 7%

    Scanned a 450 cow herd earlier today. The empty rate was 7% total which was excellent. This herd consists of Jersey Cross Friesian cows farmed on a grass based system. There is a 15 week breeding period. Low cost systems of productivity are fine when grass is available. Draught hit the farm in August and they had to supplement with maize concentrates to maintain milk production. It was the correct decision as these cows have excellent body condition score which will stand to them in the dry cow period. Dr.Dan
  • Dairy farming in Durrus West Cork

    Travelled down to West Cork for an annual visit for a whole herd scan for a brother and sister farming between Durras and Goleen. Dingle and Ballyferriter have beauty and this is well matched with its scenery. Absoutely fabulous sight to be hold. The brother and sister that I met farm together and have dairy cows , suckler cows, sheep on fragmented farmland close to the atlantic ocean between Durrus and Goleen. They maintain an excellent records, produce excellent dairy and beef cattle and use ultrasonography as a tool in the management of their herd. However, it is unfortunate to see that the demise of the cattle industry in the part of West Cork. Soil types, farm fragmentation, capital investment limit scope to expand enterprises. The industry needs to awaken itself to the fact that scaling up of operations need not necessarily be the best way forward for society. One has to give consideration to rural sociology and the impact of demise of industries in rural Ireland on the demographics and social structure in rural communities. Dr. Dan @
  • Multiple ovulations and twins

    Scanned a herd of cows in Co. Cork.  25% of the cows were empty.  Among the empty and pregnant cows, was the high incidence of multiple ovulations and twins amongst cows that were 9 months pregnant.  This is a recurring theme in herds where fertility is a problem and it warrants further investigation.  It is known that in higher yielding herds and with Holstein breeding that the incidence of twins increases.  However, the relationship between infertility and multiple ovulations has not been identified to my knowledge and warrants investigation.


    Dr.Dan @

  • Cure for warts on teats

    On a call today, scanning a herd of maiden heifers which were running with a stock bull for the past 4 months. The client was checking the cows for warts on their teats and was putting a paste made up of vinegar, bread soda and glycerin on them. He claims that this paste kills the warts very successfully.  I haven’t heard of this before. I have many clients who lose heifers on an annual basis because of the severe warts on the teats.


    Dr. Dan @

  • Stomach fluke and its impact on fertility

    Visited a farm in Co, Cork where 25% of the herd were diagnosed not pregnant. The client had used s Hereford stock bull and claimed that he was sub-fertile.  Further discussion however, showed that the herd suffered a severe outbreak from stomach fluke last May and this would have a severe knock on affect on fertility.  Cows would have become sub-fertile or infertile for a period in conjunction with the stress emulating from the stomach fluke.

       Dr Dan @


  • Copper deficiency

    With a client outside Mullingar, who had an extremely high empty rate among his cows in a large dairy herd of over 200 cows. 35% of them empty. Discussion with the client revealed that there was a very severe problem with cooper deficiency on the farm, culminating in a severe outbreak of IBR which resulted in losses in cows and calves and severe infertility on the farm. They have now got the cooper status of the herd up to an acceptable level and are proceeding to address the IBR vaccination. I explained to them that their vaccination programme will not be effective if the mineral status in the herd is not correct. Dr.Dan
  • price of liquid milk not acceptable.

    On Monday night, gave a lecture to a group of farmers in Baltinglass, Co Wicklow on maximizing reproductive performance in the dairy herd. One of the big issues among dairy farmers at present was the fact that liquid milk price of 31 cent a litre was totally unacceptable for production of liquid milk during the winter period with the associated higher costs. Secondly, the current milk production year that we are in is .9% nationally under quota which in a good production year, suggested that our breeding policy was reducing volumes in milk production. The national figures for milk recorded herds show that the average production per cow has slipped from 5700 litres to approximately 5,500 litres from years 2008 and 2009.
  • Cow with over 100 tonnes of milk fails to go in calf

    Visited a farm outside Thurles, Co Tipperary today with a British Friesian herd. One of the cows has over 100 tonnes of milk produced and destined to get a diamond award based on her production to date. The cow has failed to go in calf for the past year but based on diagnostic assessment, is reproductively sound and therefore an opportunity pertains to implant an embryo to bypass here own inferior embryo quality and to set up the pregnancies in this way. This has worked very successfully in the past with animals assessed as reproductively sound but failing to settle in calf, through Ai or natural service. Dr.Dan
  • 9 out 80 cows empty.Excellent score!

    Visited a client outside Nenagh with 130 cows. An EBI of 80 and nine cows in total empty. It’s a Holstein freisian herd. Breeding window of 14 weeks. Achieving these figures is excellent. The key to his success over other years is that he brought on board a nutritionist and stepped up the feeding of cows during the year to maintain body condition score on cows. Dr.Dan
  • 2 sets of twins as a consequence of embryo transfer

    Scanned a herd of cows this morning in Co. Limerick whereby recipients were being examined. One of the cows examined has had previously two sets of twins as a consequence of embryo transfer. Identical twins were born on the two occasions. This is the first case I have recorded in all of my experience with embryo transfer. Is this an uterine environment resulting in the embryo splitting of the time of embryo transfer? It is a question that remains to be answered. Dr.Dan
  • Ulstrasonography to identify problematic cows

    Visited a dairy farm outside Co Limerick today. In the herd of 100 cows, 7% of the cows were empty. However, the main issue on this farm was that there were an additional 15% of the cows calving from May into June which really shifts the figures considerably in terms of the economics of this production. The major issue on this farm is the fact that the option of inducing cows to calve, used by other individuals, is not acceptable by this farmer. The only option with these animals would be to consider using diagnostic ultrasonography during the middle of the breeding season to identify problematic cows amongst the late calvers, to advice on same and to use this same scan to bring forward cows with early embryonic deaths. Dr.Dan
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