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Cows 365 Blog

June 2011 - Posts

  • Reduced concentrate input from 3.2 kgs to zero leads to 30% non pregnancy rate.

    Our last call yesterday evening was to a large dairy farm in Co. Meath where a client presented a Holstein dairy herd plus maiden heifers to assess reproductive performance where stock bulls had been used in the breeding programme. Because of an impending super levy, he had reduced concentrate input to zero from 3.2 kgs. Over 30% of the herd were confirmed not pregnant and I advised the client to put these cows back on ration because of the variability associated with grass, dry matter intakes with grass availability and grass quality, a change in his management programme will be beneficial to those cows yet still to go in calf. In the group of maiden heifers, he was very disappointed in the fact that 40% of the heifers were not confirmed pregnant. The stock bull had been introduced 10 weeks previously. I explained to him that a lot of the heifers were of poor stature and would only have started normal ovarian cycle in the previous month. It is important that cows are fit for service before introduction of AI or a natural breeding programme. Dr Dan @
  • Scanning cows with stock bulls running with a dairy herd.

    First call this morning in West Cork. Three stock bulls running with a dairy herd and the client wanted the 140 cows scanned to assess overall reproductive performance to identify cows carrying twins, sex of pregnancies, for the purpose of identifying cows with potential difficulty in calving and the ageing of pregnancies for drying off cows. This client is faced with the impending superlevy in the current year and wants to plan ahead on the basis of cows calving next January, February and March prior to the end of the quota year. He will start to dry off cows based on scan dates today. Dr Dan @
  • Grass shortages in the Thurles/Templemore region.

    On farm visits in the area between Roscrea and Thurles today, farmers are complaining that grass has become very tight and they are having to supplement with silage. This is because of low temperatures at night over the past 3 weeks and as a result grass rotation has brought about low grass covers and with the stocking rate high at this time of year and after grass not yet available for cows, there is restricted dry matter intakes with a depression in milk yields. Today started out very bright and sunny but radically changed to very wet conditions for the rest of the afternoon. On our travels today in the Templederry area we remarked on land being poached with very tight grazing. Dr Dan @
  • Short Horn Dairy herd visit

    Morning rise and time today, visited a Short Horn dairy herd outside Cahir, County Tipperary.Almost 90 Short Horn Cross Friesian were presented for a Mid-Season pregnancy scan. 76 cows were greater than 40 days calved, 86% were confirmed pregnant Dr Dan @
  • Please ensure all vasectomised bulls are validated as infertile

    Visited a dairy farm outside Tipperary Town today where cows were presented as not detected in heat. Vasectomised bulls with chin ball harnesses were running with both cows and heifers. Heifers were presented not detected in heat and they were confirmed pregnant today and in turn were cows which were also confirmed pregnant. There were cows presented which were not fit to go in calf. Indeed, the vasectomised bull was indeed fertile. The farmer told me that the vet in question informed him he had the option to have the sample taken away to ensure that the bull was indeed properly vasectomised and he took the option to avoid the extra cost to be incurred. He is now faced with a much higher cost than expected. Dr.Dan @
  • Dr.Dan’s Weekly Farm Diary up to June 7th 2011

    This past week began with a trip down to Loop Head in West Clare. This is a very scenic area with coastal views on both sides as one travels from Kilkee towards Loop Head. The first client had a suckler herd with excellent cross bred beef cows. He had used AI during the winter months and ran a stock bull with the cows for the month of February through April. We had to age and foetal sex the pregnancies. Contrary to the typical dairy herd, most of the cows (95%) were in calf. This suckler farmer was a part-time farmer with an off-farm job in Kilrush. Many of these jobs are precarious at the present time. Fortunately there is a good profit margin in suckler beef production. Calls in the area around Doonbeg centered around a mixture of dairy and beef farmers. Many of these individuals are dependent solely on farming for an income. Farms are fragmented, soils are marginal for grass production and the optimum to increase herd size is limited. County Clare is renowned for the breeding of Limousine cattle. Many beef farmers breed Limousine cattle for the production of bulls for suckler herds. The breeding of pedigree cattle results in social interaction, which is very beneficial in rural Ireland where social isolation can be a problem. A number of the pedigree cattle breeders use superovulation and embryo transfer procedures to harvest extra progeny from their best genetics on the farm. Many farmers get very frustrated with the variable results from these procedures. It is very difficult to predict responses to treatments for embryo transfer. Costs can indeed far exceed the resulted profit from the sale of progeny. My day in County Clare finished with visits to two dairy farmers outside Ennis. In one case the client was focused on milk production in excess of 10,000 litres per cow in 305 days while the second was a grass –based milk producer at 5,500 litres per cow. There are evident differences in both production systems , with profit margins deemed to be higher per cow on the grass-based system. However, if cows are well managed in a high output system, longevity of the cow is dramatically increased. Systems approach need further discussion with a fair comparison. Dr.Dan and all the team @
  • Reproductive performance lower than normal

    On a farm visit outside Kildorrery, Co. Cork to a dairy farmer, cows had genetic potential for 1800 gallons of milk. The client had them on 3 kilograms of a dairy ration and the reproductive performance of this herd was below than expected by the client with a high incidence of embryonic death and abnormal uterine function. My advice to this client was to step back up with ration in the diet and to circumvent the genetic requirements of the cow and to maintain body condition score of the animal. Dr Dan @
  • It costs money to make bale silage

    On a farm visit outside Drombane, Co. Tipperary today a dairy farmer informed me that the cost of making bale silage to prevent acidosis during the early Spring grazing programme is an essential part of his management and the total cost outside of labour for making bales of silage is currently €10.34 per bale. This includes the net wrap plastic, fertilizer and baling and excludes any land rental to make same. Dr.Dan @
  • Dairy short horns as a cross-breed on the Holstein cows

    Visited a dairy farmer from outside Brosna, Co. Kerry this morning where a client had Holstein and Short Horn dairy cows. He had one cow presented which contrasted immensely to the cow alongside her (photo attached) which was producing on her last recording 32 litres of milk and was confirmed pregnant today at 32 days. This line of breeding, the dam was Libby's Pebble and the sire was Joiner Rentenal. In my opinion, a dairy short horn will provide excellent hybrid figure when crossed with the Holstein cow if that’s what the client desires in preference to a Jersey crossed with the Holstein. In this cross-breeding programme, he will have calves which will be suitable to meet the market for beef production and cull cow value will also be far greater than the Jersey cross. Dr.Dan @
  • Friesian stock bulls can cause severe calving difficulties with maiden heifers

    Visited a client today outside Castleisland, Co. Kerry who presented a herd of Friesian cows and maiden heifers for scanning. 5 of the first calvers had severe damage to the reproductive tract caused by severe calving difficulty, which was associated with the use of a Freisan bull. The client acknowledged that this was a big issue on his farm and as a result, was using AI where he could use Friesian sires and know the risk of calving with them. However, he is now running 2 friesian stock bulls to mop up animals that were not confirmed pregnant to first service. This in my opinion is a dangerous practice. Dr.Dan @
  • British Friesian as an option for grass based system.

    Visited a dairy farm outside Nenagh, County Tipperary today with 150 dairy stock with British Friesian bloodlines. This herd of pedigree British Friesians were not off the classical British Friesian in terms of type. The animals were relatively small. The herd rolling herd average is 1250 gallons. Butter fats and milk proteins are excellent. The fertility in the herd is excellent with pregnancy rates close to 60% in lactating cows and close to 70% in maiden heifers. The big plus for this farmer is the fact that that cull cow values is far greater when compared to Jersey and Jersey Cross Friesians. This added value in his opinion has the hybrid figure associated with the Jersey Cross Friesian Dr.Dan @
  • Dairy Farming in Dingle, Co. Kerry.

    Calls today entailed travel back to the Dingle peninsula to scan cows for Lispole through Dingle, Ballyferriter and Ventry. We visited 12 farms through a long day with every farmer having stock ready and help on hand to ensure everything went smoothly. These farmers really appreciate an excellent reproductive management service provided for them. We have an excellent client list in this area and most of the farmers will speak irish when you make the effort to converse with them through the irish language. Typical dairy farms in this region range from 20 to 70 cows. All farmers take great pride in the care of their stock and get very frustrated when cows fail to settle in calf. At this time of year, farmers are 4 to 5 weeks into their breeding programs and require on assessment for early non-pregnent diagnosis and management of late calving cows. Dr.Dan @
  • Drought situation pertaining between Carrick-on-Suir and Clonmel

    Travelling this evening between Carrick-on-Suir and Clonmel and along the River Suir, you see an irrigation system pumping out water on a crop of potatoes as the crop is at a delicate stage in terms of growth phase. The dry conditions at the present time with low rainfall are impacting very negatively on crops of maize, potatoes and new grass re-seeds. Dr.Dan @
  • Calving difficulty causes severe trauma to the reproductive tract in the dairy cow.

    Visited a dairy herd outside Cork city which presented a large number of cows with very poor body condition. The client informed me that the stock bull had resulted in very large calves. The impact of this on the reproductive tract was phenomenal with severe uterine infections, failure of cows to cycle post- calving even though they are 3 months calved. A large number of cows will fail to go in calf. When using a stock bull, it is important to have some measure of calving difficulty associated with the sire. Dr.Dan @
  • Once a day milking to avoid superlevy situation

    Once a day milking in a Jersey Cross Friesian Herd Visited a dairy herd outside Dungarvan, Co. Waterford. Milking 90 dairy cows. They are operating on once a day milking system which facilitates labour availability. Current butter fats and proteins are 4.55 and 3.55 respectively. The client informed me that once a day milking suits them for the purposes of superlevy risk control with low maintenance charge for the cows and added value for milk supplied based on butter fats and proteins. Once a day milking to avoid a superlevy situation? Visited a client outside Waterford city today with 140 cows milking with a milk quota of 95,000 gallons. He is going to exceed his quota this year and to avoid the risk of doing so in the next 3 years, he plans to maintain his cow numbers and go to once a day milking. This option is being proposed by some of our research institutions. Is this the right answer to the problem we have got? In my opinion, one should maintain cow numbers with twice a day milking and fill the quota on the basis of cow numbers matching the quota available. With excessive cow numbers to quota available, there are also major risks of animal welfare issues arising because of restricted food intakes, overcrowding in-house and poor reproductive management. This can all be avoided if cow numbers match the quota available. Dr.Dan @
  • Impact of maize with spoilage causing severe reproductive problems.

    On a call in County Offaly where a herd of cows were presented with poor BCS and scouring. The client was unable to explain why they were scouring. In this instance, the buffer feeding of cows involved feeding of maize from a pit which was very wide and a high level of spillage of the maize. This results in mycotoxins and can create very severe problems in the health of cows. I advised the client to enquire about the use of a mycotoxin binder to address the problem as the area of spillage is only the tip of the iceberg as the penetration of the spillage is far greater than that at the pit face. As this time of year, there is very severe problems in the buffer feeding of maize where temperatures rise and the pit face of the maize pit is not managed properly to control the spoilage. Dr.Dan @
  • First lactation cows in a non-cycling state

    Visited a farm this morning outside Dripsey in County Cork where a herd of mostly Friesian cows were presented for early pregnancy diagnosis and reproductive assessment. The first lactation cows presented today had a high proportion of anoestrus or non-cycling state. These heifers were in a poor body condition, of insufficient size at the time of calving. As a result of these effects, the cows remained in a deep anoestrus state. The recommendation to this client was to increase the level of dietry supplementation on the heifers would remain empty at the end of the breeding season. Dr.Dan @
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