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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CALVING

How a South Devon farm has reduced age at first calving

A change in youngstock management has allowed a Cornish farm to maximise growth rates and reduce age at first calving to two years. The Rowes, who run a 140-cow South…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Inside a boar stud looking at how semen is collected

Attention to detail in the boar stud when it comes to housing, health, feeding, semen collection and processing has allowed farmers to access superior genetics of the highest health status…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How US dairy is extending its voluntary waiting period

Breeding cows later after calving isn’t harming pregnancy rates at George DeRuyter & Sons dairy in Sunnyside, south-east of Seattle in Washington state, where the 5,000-cow herd is averaging 26%.…

GRASSLAND MANAGEMENT

How hill farmers keep production costs to £43 a ewe

Penny Chantler and her sons, William and Sam Sawday, are improving profitability at the 188ha Hill Farm, Llanigon, Hay-on-Wye, by keeping production costs in their sheep enterprise low at just…

ASSESSING PERFORMANCE

UK pig farm using EID to track piglets from birth

Pig farmer and vet Charlie Thompson, Bridge House Farm, says EID is a tool he could not live without – it is helping him to manage breeding decisions, monitor performance…

ASSESSING PERFORMANCE

How a farm is lifting beef calf weaning and slaughter weights

Detailed cow and calf performance recording is part of an overall business drive to increase beef output at Hedgeley Farms, Northumberland. Over the past five years, farm manager Vicky Hogg…

Practical advice

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FEED AND NUTRITION

How to assess if your dry cow ration is working effectively

The success of early lactation performance, metabolic disorders, udder health and fertility are all linked to the diet fed during the dry period. Although a ration may look adequate on…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Guide to managing big pig litters

Genetic progress in pig breeding is continuing to push up born alive numbers, with the top 10% of farms now averaging 18.4 pigs born alive and the top third, 16.65.…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Why ‘easy’ calving bulls are causing calving issues

A significant proportion of pedigree beef sires with positive estimate breeding values (EBVs) for maternal calving ease are producing daughters with an increased risk of calving difficulties. This is due…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

US farmer's six-point plan for better dairy breeding

Good genetics make the difference between being average and being great, according to Lloyd Holterman from Rosy Lane Holsteins in Wisconsin, US. The herd of 1,100 Holsteins out-performs the averages…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Guide to maximising conception rates in gilts

Decisions made around breeding have a big influence on the future productivity of gilts so getting reproduction right at this stage is an important link in the performance of the…

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…

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…