Know How / Dairy / Breeding and fertility

Good breeding and fertility management underpin profitable milk production in the dairy herd. Keep up with the latest information on dairy cow fertility, from genetics and genomics to heat detection, artificial insemination (AI), pregnancy diagnosis and calving intervals.

Case studies

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HEALTH AND WELFARE

How dairy farmer has cut neospora infection by 25%

A Welsh dairy farm’s policy of not breeding heifer replacements from cows that test positive for neospora and being meticulous with biosecurity has helped to reduce herd infection from more…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Cross-bred cows v Holstein: How they compare

Researchers from the University of Minnesota have been comparing the performance of three-way-cross cows (made up of Viking Red, Montbeliarde and Holstein) to Holsteins. Their studies have compared feed intake; milk…

CALVING

US dairyman reveals calving protocols at his 2,800-cow dairy

Implementing strict calving protocols has helped US dairy farmer Don Niles reduce stillbirths from 24% to less than 2% on his 2,800-cow dairy. The vet, who is now co-owner and…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Irish Economic Breeding Index helps improve dairy cow fertility

Fertility is improving in Ireland’s largely block-calving dairy industry despite tough growing seasons and ambitious herd expansion plans since milk quotas ended in 2015. The average national calving interval has…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Genomics: Perspectives from dairy farms in the UK and USA

Since the genomic test was made available to commercial producers in 2013, UK dairy producers have had the ability to test females and use genomic bull semen within their herds…

LIVESTOCK

Why genomics is a more accurate predictor of performance

Genomics is proving a more accurate measure of future performance than predicted transmitted ability (PTA) at Curlew Fields Farm, in York.   Dairy farmer Roger Hildreth is an avid user…

Practical advice

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HEALTH AND WELFARE

Vet Viewpoint: Advice on dairy heat stress and Johne's

Unsurprisingly, the heatwave has raised issues for vets across the UK. Rob Davies from Camarthenshire and David McCrea from Cumbria are both warning farmers to beware of heat stress and…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How to combat heat stress in cattle to protect fertility

The hot and dry summer is making fertility more challenging, with food shortages and animals more likely to suffer from heat stress. In the latest edition of Fertility Focus, Ricardo…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Advice for rearing heifers from weaning to calving

In the UK 36% of heifers are 30 months or older at their first calving. But in order to optimise fertility and milk production from these animals, the target should…

LIVESTOCK

4 steps to ensure heifers are on track to calve at 24 months

We all need to build more resilient businesses in this tough world of market volatility and the starting point on all dairy farms is the birth of the calf. What…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Q&A: Advice for genomic testing calves

Genomic testing is becoming a growing trend to help UK farmers select the best herd replacements. Testing heifers is where real gains can be made. It can also help eliminate…

FEED AND NUTRITION

12 steps to keep heifer growth rates on track

With heifer growth rates jeopardised by late spring turnout, it has never been more important to allocate priority grazing on the best-quality pastures for underweight replacements. Ideally, heifers in grass-based…

Insights

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BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Fertility Focus: What can UK herds learn from US dairy systems?

Westpoint Farm vet Matt Gue visited America last summer as part of a short study tour funded by the Farm Link Travel Bursary. During his stay, he spent time in…

LIVESTOCK

How to use dairy genomics to full potential

Genomics is a tool that can be used to really drive the profitability of dairy systems, yet it’s still not being used to its full potential by many producers. US…

DAIRY

4 messages for the dairy industry

More than 15,000 farmers attended the biannual Teagasc Moorepark Research Open day in Fermoy, County Cork, on 4 July to learn about the latest research being conducted at the centre. …

LIVESTOCK

August bull proof sees shift towards high fat and protein

The latest profitable lifetime index (PLI) genetic rankings for daughter-proven Holstein bulls, published today (9 August) by AHDB Dairy, continue to show a shift towards fat and protein improvers, to…

How to get stocking rates and nutrition right

Recent research in Ireland has concluded that stocking rate has a minimal impact on fertility rate if nutrition is managed correctly. This, in hand with careful selection, means that increased…

How a switch to Irish dairy genetics could improve fertility

More and more block calving herds are capturing the “phenomenal” fertility benefits of Irish genetics, which are proving relevant to both spring and autumn-calving systems in the UK. The economic…

In pictures: Behind the scenes at a dairy bull stud

Every year, dairy cows across the UK are inseminated with £2m straws of semen from hundreds of different bulls. Wendy Short went behind the scenes at the Cogent UK Bull…

Jersey crosses proven to have fertility benefits

There is growing interest in cross-bred dairy cows and research has confirmed that crossing Holsteins with Jerseys does lead to improvements in health and fertility, due to hybrid vigour. One…

Jersey dairy cow six years after genetics ban

Six years ago, a 250-year ban on importing cow genetics on to the island of Jersey came to an end. Aly Balsom speaks to two producers with varying views on…

LIVESTOCK

Why transition period is so crucial to dairy herd profitability

Paying less attention to dry cows is a fast route to poor post-calving performance. Dairy Update looks at why the transition period is so important to dairy herd profitability Ask…