7 June 2002

Fertility prospects OK

SUCKLER herd managers should not be unduly concerned about cow fertility this summer, where cow condition is good, says Wiltshire vet Keith Cutler.

"Prospects for cow fertility this season are good, early grass growth means that cows are in good condition and should hold to service," says Mr Cutler.

But cows lacking condition should be offered supplementary feed to encourage fertility and get them in a suitable condition for service. "Rolled barley at 1kg a head, or something similar, should be enough for most cows to put on sufficient condition.

"Grass quality is less of an issue for suckler cows than it might be for dairy herds. Suckler cows are normally under less stress than dairy cows and this may be a factor in conception rates."

Mr Cutler believes that problems in suckler cow conception come from a number of other sources. "Hired bulls are a major concern, they represent a disease risk and producers should avoid hiring bulls when they can."

Among the issues surrounding bulls are diseases, such as campylobacter, leptospirosis and bovine virus diarrhoea. "All of these diseases can have serious financial implications for a herd and should be kept out if possible.

"Hired bulls should be isolated for at least three weeks before use. This gives time for the bull to settle and have a full inspection." &#42