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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BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How an Irish farmer is achieving in-calf rate of 91% with AI

Matthew Murphy is farm manager at Newford Farm, Athenry in County Galway, which was set up as a demonstration farm in 2015 by Dawn Meats and the Irish agriculture and…

BEEF

Video: Switch to Stabiliser suckler herd brings cost savings

A farmer who transformed his suckler herd from continental beef breeds to a pedigree Stabiliser herd has made significant savings in costs and labour. We visited mixed farmer Richard Roderick…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How sexed semen is paying off for Shropshire dairy farmer

Fertility is the main profit driver for any block calving business, so it’s little surprise that concerns over conception rates put many off using sexed semen for fear of extending…

CALVING

How a Yorkshire suckler herd is achieving 96% calves weaned

An easy-calving herd is making light work of outdoor calving on a Pennine hill farm, with calf mortality at 1% in recent years and minimal assistance. The Hallos family, from…

SHEEP

How a new entrant built up flock on short-term land tenures

Sheep farming can be a tough enterprise anyway, but if you’re starting with no farm, no assets and limited experience, sheer determination is worth more than anything else. Young farmer…

GRASSLAND MANAGEMENT

Texel tup breeder works towards forage-only system

A Texel flock on the Llŷn Peninsula is one year into the process of switching its tup-rearing system to one based on forage and performance recording. Dafydd Jones of Cefn Caer…

Practical advice

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BREEDING AND FERTILITY

4 steps to assessing your voluntary waiting period

Voluntary Waiting Periods – the interval postpartum when producers refrain from breeding cows – are typically 42 days on most UK dairy farms. But anecdotal data from 16 high-production herds…

CALVING

How to prevent and treat common problems at calving

For suckler farmers, income for the year is dependent on a successful calf crop, so keeping cows as healthy as possible at calving time is critical to ensure each animal…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How to use genomics to improve dairy economic performance

Genomics can be used in dairy herds to reliably predict the top-performing animals to breed the farm's next crop of replacements.  Not only can it improve the short-term economies by…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

What causes twins in dairy cows and how to prevent it

Twinning is an undesirable occurrence in dairy cattle, with the birth of more than one calf thought to be responsible for subsequent health issues in both cows and calves. While…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Tips on feeding and cow comfort to improve fertility

Farmers could realise an extra 500-1,500kg of milk a cow by improving transition management. A key factor is feeding because the hormone changes a cow experiences at calving reduce appetite.…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Fertility advice for autumn-calving dairy herds

Practising farm vet Dave Gilbert, who has 13 years’ experience working with block-calving herds, says the first steps are working out when you want to start, how long you want…

Insights

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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…

LIVESTOCK

Finishing results reveal high reliability of EBVs

Repeating a trial comparing the performance of terminal beef sires has shown estimated breeding values (EBVs) are highly reliable, with higher genetic merit progeny outperforming calves bred from bulls with…

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…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How EBVs can help hill farmers meet lamb market needs

A declining market in light lamb specifications means hill farmers need to adapt to meet new demands. This is according to geneticist Janet Roden from Aberystwyth, who believes genetic improvement…

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. …

BEEF

Breeder outlines a new direction for a better beef industry

The beef industry requires an urgent change of direction with emphasis put on breeding and feed efficiencies to counter the effects of continuing commodity price volatility and uncertainty over farm…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Finishing performance of terminal sires compared

Calves sired by bulls with higher terminal indices record heavier carcass weights resulting in returns worth an additional £45/animal when compared to progeny of bulls with lower genetic merit. Harper…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Sire selection one of easiest ways to improve fertility

Keeping records and making better efforts to select the right sire is key to helping beef producers improve fertility and increase profitability on their farm, according to scientists. Research by…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Target daily liveweight gains to cut beef finishing times

Setting strict targets for daily liveweight gains and getting rid of animals that are not hitting the grade is helping beef finisher Meilir Jones keep a tight rein on costs…

PIGS

How pig breeding tech could help cut disease-related costs

Breeding technologies which help pigs become genetically healthier and less susceptible to illness could help the UK pork sector reduce antibiotics use and save millions of pounds every year. Losses in…