26 October 2001

F&M restrictions meant in-calf heifer reduction

IN-CALF heifer numbers fell sharply in June due to foot-and-mouth restrictions delaying heifer inseminations.

But numbers are expected to surge by the December census, averting major dairy cow shortages early next year.

Based on the June census, in-calf heifer numbers are nearly 6% lower than last year, says MDC Datum market analyst Ken Boyns. "This is double the rate of decline seen over the last two years."

One reason for this greater decline is that many heifers were inseminated later than planned due to lack of AI services and the inability to move bulls earlier this year because of F&M, he says.

"But dairy cow numbers have only fallen by 3.6%. This is due to many cows being retained that would otherwise have been culled through the over-30-month scheme."

The delay in heifer inseminations could lead to a surge in numbers of in-calf heifers by the December census. These extra in-calf heifers may be sufficient to replace cull cows without any major cow shortages, adds Mr Boyns. &#42