Know How / Breeding and fertility

Good breeding and fertility management underpin profitable milk production in dairy herds, good beef carcass quality and efficient lamb production. Get the latest on cow and ewe fertility, including genetics, EBVS, heat detection, artificial insemination (AI), scanning and calving intervals.

Case studies

See all

DAIRY

How a dairy is making a margin over concentrate of 29ppl

Daylesford Organic Farm is successfully keeping production costs down by running a low-input system and maximising milk from forage. The dairy is making a 29ppl margin over concentrate, with milk…

SHEEP

How shearing lambs can improve growth and reduce labour

Removing the fleeces of lambs is helping lift growth rates and improve flock management on a Welsh farm. Debbie James reports. Shearing every lamb in its first summer is increasing growth rates by up to 20g a…

SHEEP

How Swaledale breeders found tups with better performance

A group of pioneering farmers have overcome the inherent challenges of performance recording hill breeds to make significant genetic progress in their Swaledale flocks. The three-year AHDB project has ended,…

LIVESTOCK MARKETING

How dairy farmer makes over £6/kg from Jersey bull calves

When Devonshire dairy farmer Neil Weston switched from being a flying herd to breeding his own replacements it created an unwanted boom in dairy bull calves. But after being inspired…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How a goat farmer has lifted AI conception rates

A dairy goat farmer has increased conception rates by 10% after switching from natural service to a synchronisation and artificial insemination (AI) breeding programme. Gary Yeomans, who farms with his…

BEEF

Four ways 800-head suckler herd managed beef crash

Adapting to cope with price volatility has allowed an 800-head suckler enterprise to be resilient over the past year. The Hull family’s spring-calving herd is farmed alongside a large sheep…

Practical advice

See all

PIGS

What causes seasonal infertility in pigs and how to manage it

Infertility often spikes during late summer and early autumn. Dr Grant Walling, director of science and technology at breeding company JSR, offers some ways to manage breeding problems this summer.…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Will genomics work for my dairy herd?

Genomic testing has grown in popularity over the last five years, although is still far from the norm, with only 3% of farms undertaking tests. With superior reliability of 68%…

BEEF

Advice on weaning and creep feeding suckled calves

Weaning calves can be a stressful event for both the cow and calf, but it is necessary to give the cow time to recuperate in time for the next breeding…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How spring calvers are milk recording to lift cow efficiency

A Welsh dairy farm selling milk on a solids contract is using milk recording data to breed replacements from cows yielding 1kg milk solids (MS) to every 1kg of their…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Buying a stock bull: Health, safety and performance checks

Introducing a stock bull, whether it is the main breeding sire or a sweeper, can be a risky process, according to North Yorkshire vet Mark Spilman. Mr Spilman, a partner…

PIGS

Advice for selecting and managing gilts up to service

Good management and selection of gilts is fundamental for maintaining a productive herd. Emerging evidence suggests the environment in which a gilt is reared during her suckling, nursery and finishing…

Insights

See all

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

5 tips from NZ to increase sheep flock returns by 30%

UK sheep farmers can achieve a 30% increase in flock gross margins by adopting five principles used in New Zealand, a consultant claims. Murray Rohloff says while benefits will vary…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Lim-gate: What next for EBVs?

The exposure of errors relating to the registration of birth dates and parentage of cattle last year brought into question the legitimacy and accuracy of data feeding into Estimated Breeding…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

August bull proofs: Genomic sires showcase performance ability

Young genomic sires are proving their ability to perform, making up the entire top 10 of proven Holstein sires in the August bull proof run released today (13 August) by…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How Ram Compare could add £5 to lamb value

A national terminal sire sheep evaluation project has identified rams that can finish faster and at better grades on nine commercial sheep farms across the UK. Over the past four…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Why calving ease should be suckler herd priority

Selecting bulls with a positive calving ease estimated breeding value (EBV) should be a priority for suckler producers who are aiming to improve herd efficiency, a study has shown. Researchers…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Benefits of cross-breeding dairy and is it right for you?

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have been comparing the performance of three-way-cross cows (made up of Viking Red, Montbeliarde and Holstein) to Holsteins. It differs from a similar study…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Livestock gene editing: Current rules and potential benefits

The potential to make our own legislation after leaving the EU could provide scope for gene editing of livestock to become mainstream in the UK. Gene editing changes a precise…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Sheep AI trial shows frozen semen possibilities

Farmers wishing to improve conception rates by using cervical insemination in combination with frozen semen could learn from a recent Farming Connect study. Cervical AI using fresh semen is not…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How the dairy industry is making genetic improvements

Dairy producers have made rapid genetic progress in recent years, with gains in milk, fat and protein production and a transformation in the appearance of cows, each heavily influenced by…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Trial shows huge merit of using EBVs with beef herds

Using bulls with a higher terminal index can be worth more than £80 a finished calf, according to new research carried out at Harper Adams University. Using Hereford bulls, the…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

What changes are Holstein UK making to type classification?

Four new traits have been introduced to Holstein UK’s type classification service. Previously, classifiers scored cows on four composite areas covering 21 linear type traits (see "Old scoring system" below).…