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

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SHEEP

How farmers are benefiting from contract rearing ewe lambs

Outsourcing the breeding and lambing of 500 ewe lambs is allowing a large-scale sheep enterprise to maximise stocking rates and grass availability on its own farm. Ewe lambs from Thistleyhaugh…

SHEEP

How an Oxfordshire sheep unit sells 1.92 lambs per ewe

An early-lambing flock is achieving feed conversion rates of 2.5:1 and is selling 1.92 lambs per ewe. Michael Priestley visited Warborough Farm with the Nuffield Beef and Sheep Group to…

LIVESTOCK

How a tenant farm manages 3,200ha of Wiltshire grassland

An organic ranch-style farming system is allowing a Wiltshire business to run 490 cows with just two labour units and create a rare and highly valued habitat in the process.…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Genomic insight helps beef producer with breeding choices

Genomic EBVs (GEBVs) may be familiar to dairy farmers but in the beef sector, genomic testing is a relatively new concept and is currently available only for the Limousin breed.…

BEEF

Why one farmer switched to Parthenaise beef breed

The Parthenaise breed is one of the oldest in France and has been refined over the past 50 years to produce high-quality beef. Its meat is some of the most…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Why switch to autumn block calving is improving resilience   

The drive to create a dairy system that can cope with fluctuations in the milk price, improve profitability and provide a better work-life balance has seen a Yorkshire farm transition…

Practical advice

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BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Are fertility monitors worthwhile in block calving herds?

Fertility monitors are widely used to support heat detection in all-year-round calving herds, but more spring and autumn calving systems are now opting for monitors over scratch-cards and tail paints…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How to manage body condition in overfit cows

Farmers are being advised to carefully manage cow body condition with anecdotal reports suggesting an increased number of caesarean sections due to overfit cows. Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service (FAS) says…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

What to consider when planning a compact calving system

A key aim for any beef farmer is to produce a live calf from every cow each year. Compact calving periods are therefore vital for a productive and profitable herd.…

FARROWING

Farrowing management advice for stockpeople

Piglet survival and sow health are likely to be compromised if a sound system is not in place during farrowing. Therefore, stockpeople need to ensure that attention to detail is…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Advice on using dairy teaser bulls

As the breeding season in spring block calving systems approaches, dairy farmers will be weighing up the pros and cons of running vasectomised bulls with their herds to improve heat…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How to assess and improve dairy herd genetics

Making the right decisions on breeding strategy can mean the difference between profit and loss for dairy farmers. Even with the best management, there is a limit to animal performance,…

Insights

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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).…

LIVESTOCK

CT scanning set to influence terminal and maternal traits

Computerised tomography (CT) scanning has demonstrated its value in sheep carcass improvements and could be used to play a role in lambing ease prediction. A range of measurements such as…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Scientists produce pigs resistant to respiratory syndrome

Scientists have produced pigs that can resist porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) by changing their genetic code. PRRS is an endemic disease and costs the pig industry about £1.75bn/year…