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Cows 365 Blog

September 2011 - Posts

  • Valuation of fertility in bulls using tests

    Visited a client outside Thurles today who breeds pedigree Piemontese, Red Angus and Blonde d’Aquitaine cattle. He is of the opinion that we should be using testis diameter as a fertility in bulls as it is used in other countries but not to any degree in this country. Dr.Dan @
  • Farmers using scanning to identify late calving cows

    Farmers scanned cows today to identify late calving cows, empty cows, cows carrying male calves which will be late calving or high cell counts or mastitis issues for grouping to be fattened on the farm or culled immediately. On one farm visited today, the client was rearing 97 calves from the late calving cows with milk from the dairy herd to avoid superlevy. He claimed it was hard work but rewarding in that the calves were bought for reasonable money and were now a valuable asset. Dr.Dan @
  • Superlevy an issue on 7 out of 8 dairy farms visited in Limerick today.

    Dairy farmers are faced with major issues relating to welfare of cows, stress on farm families, cash flow issues all resulting from a restriction on milk supplied to the market. All of the clients visited blame advise from Teagasc advisory meetings advocating no need to purchase quota over the past no. of years as superlevy was an issue of the past and to drive on with expansion in preparation for the abolition of quotas in 2015. Now we have a scenario that quota is a valuable asset. There will be a restriction on the supply of milk in peak season and until quotas disappear there will be superlevys. Dr.Dan @
  • Scanning cows in the Autumn

    First call this week was to a client in Ballylanders, County Limerick for once a year scanning. He uses scanning as a tool to identify cows for fattening, immediate culling and due calving dates. There was a cold nip in the air this morning round 6 a.m as we started out. By 9 a.m it had got colder but the sun started peeping through the clouds. A real Autumn feel to the morning although the forecast for this week is for temperatures to be in the low to mid twenties. Dr Dan @
  • Scanning cows for pregnancy sexing to enable management of calving difficulty.

    Visited a suckler farmer in County Down who presented a herd of 70 suckler cows. A Charolais bull was running with the cows. The client had previous experience with the bull that the gestation length was dramatically increased.This created major calving difficulty with those cows carrying bull calves. His plan this year is to use the scanning of cows to identify the sex of the calf. This will enable management of the cows pre-calving, to induce those cows carrying male calves and thereby avoid extended gestation length and calving difficulty. Dr.Dan @
  • Scanning cows to identify abnormal pregnancies.

    A client presented 3 pregnancies on an early pregnancy scan earlier in the year. Of the 3 that were identified as normal, two lost the pregnancies and the third animal was still pregnant but the foetus was totally abnormal. This information was invaluable to the client as he will take remedial action at the time of calving to prevent loss of cow and calf. Dr.Dan @
  • Farmer sold a 16 day old Charolais calf froma Friesian cow

    Visited a farmer outside Virginia today who explained to me that he sold a 16 day old Charolais calf from a Friesian cow.  He got €450.00 for the calf.  In his system of production, this calf would require another €200.00  between milk and calf crunch before weanling at 12 months.  One would be better off buying a weanling calf than spending €450.00 on a suckler calf.  This is all driven by the fact that farmers are far in excess of their quota and are buying back suckler calves to use up excess milk production.  They would be better off drying off cows than this approach to milk production.

    Dr.Dan @

  • Overall empty rate 9%

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    Visited a dairy farm in West Cork where 100 cows were presented for scanning.  12 cows empty. Overall empty rate 9% based on a 19 week breeding window having begun breeding on  April 1st.


    Dr.Dan @

  • Herd health programmes are essential where no vaccination is in place.

    Scanned a herd of dairy cows outside Youghal, Co Cork where a client presented cows which had no vaccination programme in place. The level of infertility was very high with in excess of 40%  of cows eligible to be in calf not in calf.  I advised the client to ensure that a herd health programme was put in place to test for the various potential diseases that could impact  on the immune system of the cows.


    Dr Dan @

  • Crazy state of the beef industry.

    Visited a farmer in county Waterford who informed me today that a friend of his bought over 100 Jersey bull calves in the Spring @ €20.00 each and sold them in the past 3 weeks for an average of €380.00.  This is the crazy state of the beef industry as it currently stands.  These animals are not worthy of that type of money and it would not pay to feed concentrates to them on the basis of concentrate price and food conversion efficiency of this type of beast.


    Dr Dan @



  • Farming practices on a large New Zealand dairy farm.

    I visited a client today whose son worked on a large unit in New Zealand. The son is very unhappy with the farming practices in place for milk production for dairy cows. This dairy unit encompasses aprrox. 5,000 cows with a number of milking parlours facilitating same. Cows are moved from on unit to another as required by feed supplies. The winter months have resulted in severe frost and covering of snow on frozen ground. Frost was so severe that calves froze to death if they were not removed off the pads and in particular, the Jersey Cross calves. Situation was so severe that heifer calves were removed from the stand-off pad after calving where as male calves were left to die on same. Dr Dan @
  • Jersey and Jersey Cross's have very little cull value.

    On a farm today where we had a report that in excess of 100 Jersey Cross cull cows were disposed of because of quota restrictions. They fetched a price of €18,000 which is approx. €180 each. With current market values for beef cattle, this is a very poor return for cull cows and should be borne in mind with one’s programme when planning your future in dairy farming. Cull cow values at the present time for a Holstein Cross British Friesian averages close to €700 in Kilmallock mart recently. Dr Dan @
  • Scanning cows where clinical symptoms of IBR pertain

    Visited a dairy herd outside Dunmanway Co Cork where a herd of 90 cows were presented with clinical symptoms of IBR.  However, the farmer informed me that all tests with swabs, blood, milk etc.showed no evidence of the virus positive in IBR.  However, some of the samples tested positive for Mycoplasma which can present with the same symptoms as IBR.  One should have milk samples routinely tested to identify the presence or absence of Mycoplasma.

  • 25 yr old suckler cow dies in County Clare.

    On a call today outside Newmarket-on-Fergus, County Clare, a client presented a herd of suckler cows for scanning. This client previously had a 25 year old cow renowned for her age and her fertility. She is no longer in the herd as she died earlier in the year. She had a calf once again this year. The farmer had dried the cow off because she was losing too much condition. However, a number of other calves were fostered by her and came back into milk. She lost more condition and the farmer brought her indoors. She got pneumonia and died. We have no other cow as old as this cow on our scanning records. Dr Dan @
  • Return of the glass milk bottle.

    Visited a farm in county Clare today where a dairy farmer has started bottling milk in the glass bottle, the 1 pint and 1 litre bottles. He has had great success in a distribution network throughout Limerick city and surrounding villages. The added value from processing milk, bottling and distribution has increased the return to 3 times the price received at the farm gate. He informed me that the returns were excellent but a lot of hard work was involved to meet the department regulations. Dr Dan @
  • Scanning cows identifies a herd health problem.

    Visited a dairy herd outside county Limerick today where the genetic potential of the herd was in excess of 1800 gallons over 305 days. The empty rate in this herd was 36% which was totally unacceptable. This empty rate was accounted for by cows with inflammation of the uterus, cows with embryonic and foetal death. When empty rates increase beyond 15% a herd health investigation in the herd is required which involves both identification of underlying stressors associated with diet and disease. Dr Dan @
  • Risks of Bio Security in a dairy herd.

    Visited a dairy herd in county Limerick today whereby a farmer purchases dairy cows on a continous basis. The empty rate in the herd was close to 30% and he informed me that he had a high reading for BVD in the herd. While scanning the cows today we identified at least 10% of cows with late embryonic death i.e later than 30 days of pregnancy and up to 110 days of gestation. He informed me that he cannot wait until there is a mandatory requirement for all animals to be certified free of BVD. Dr Dan @
  • A freemartin heifer scanned with a mammary gland

    .Visited a farm outside Youghal where a group of maiden heifers were presented for pregnancy diagnosis. One of the maiden heifers was diagnosed with a freemartin condition. However, the heifer had developed a mammary gland associated with pregnancy in a heifer normally associated at the sixth month of gestation. Further evaluation revealed that the heifer had large ovarian cyst present on the left ovary. The mammary gland developed as a result of hormonal production from the ovarian cyst. Dr Dan @
  • Scanning cows in East Cork because of drought situation.

    Scanned 3 dairy herds around the Ballymacoda area. Grass situation has become very tight and they need to reduce stock numbers. Farmers are annoyed at the fact that they are now being forced with the situation to calve cows earlier in the Spring. Dairygold are stipulating that 14% of milk will need to be supplied in the month of May which means a shift towards January calving. Dr Dan @
  • Scanning to identify empty cows

    Morning rise and time calls today were down in county Waterford. Significant drop in temperatures. At the present time we are doing whole herd scans in this area. Farmers need to identify empty cows, the ageing of pregnancies, sexing of pregnancies, managing dry-off dates where bulls have been removed in the past 2 months.
  • An anaerobic digester as an alternative enterprise

    Visited a dairy farm outside Derry today who informed me that he has planning permission put in for an anaerobic digester with a capital investment of 1.4 million stg required. There is a 10 year payback system with a return on investment of 20%. This client currently grows in excess of 200 acres of potatoes and the current market price for same is 70 pounds per tonne which is totally unprofitable. If he gets the planning permission to install of these units, he can afford to lease the land to cut silage 5 times per year to feed the digester and then include cattle slurry as part of the receipe for the digester system. Dr Dan @
  • Ringworm in maiden heifers.

    Visited a farm in County Derry where a group of 60 maiden heifers were presented for pregnancy diagnosis. The heifers were presented were all indoors and every heifer exhibited clinical signs of ring worm. Clinical signs of the disease occurred 6 wks previously just at the time the heifers were synchronized for AI. The pregnancy rate was close to 70% to services which indicated that the ringworm did not impede on pregnancy rate. However, unsightly ringworm is in cattle, the impact on pregnancy rate was not evident. Dr Dan @
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