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 outcrossing achieved table-topping growth rates

Selecting leading proven terminal sires has resulted in lambs that finished 30 days faster on average for a Yorkshire sheep breeder. George Fell, who runs a flock of 500 Meatlinc…

SHEEP

How sheep dairy new entrant has doubled size of flock

A new entrant to dairy sheep farming has doubled his flock size less than a year after buying his first ewes, amid strengthening demand for milk. Huw Jones secured a…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How a three-way-cross beef cow is performing on Scottish farm

Introducing the Beef Shorthorn to a continental-cross (Limousin and Simmental cross) cow to create a three-way cross is helping improve the milkiness of the heifers on one Scottish beef farm.…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How Mules can rise to the challenge of rival sheep breeds

Mule breeders have been mounting a response to the challenge of other sheep breeds in recent years. Widely recognised as the leading commercial sheep, the combination of a hardy, maternal…

DAIRY

Why and how a dairy farmer is breeding his own sweeper bulls

Breeding bulls to “sweep up” after AI is giving a large-scale dairy farm control over herd biosecurity. The Harris family farm in a high-risk TB region, so a priority is…

SHEEP

Welsh farmers tap into niche market with 'new' breed of lamb

Two Welsh sheep farmers are introducing Asian, goat-like sheep genetics into their flocks to create a new income stream. Peter Williams and Bedwyr Jones have six purebred Damara lambs and…

Practical advice

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BEEF

How and what to record to inform suckler cow culling

Every commercial farm has its own aims and parameters, but there are some key breeding goals and culling criteria to drive suckler herd performance and profit. This is according to…

CALVING

How to manage and minimise difficult calvings in cows

The two main calving problems associated with cows are lack of uterine contractions and incorrect position of the calf. Through improved management and appropriate intervention, the negative impacts can be…

SHEEP

Replacement options for flocks: breeding or buying

To maintain a healthy and productive flock, whether expanding or not, inevitably means you will need replacements each year. For some farmers, buying in will be the preferred option while…

YOUNGSTOCK MANAGEMENT

Advice for ensuring heifers are the correct weight after calving

Too many heifers are still less than 85% of mature weight after calving because farmers try to "guesstimate" weights, says farm consultant Andy Dodd. Many farmers say they have had…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

6 ways to improve maiden heifer fertility

The fertility of maiden heifers can be a large profit driver. The rearing costs of youngstock are often undercalculated and when feed, bedding, housing and labour are all accounted for…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

6 tips on using genomics in your dairy herd

Genomics provides producers with an opportunity to accelerate genetic progress with confidence. North Yorkshire-based vet Neil Eastham undertook a Nuffield Scholarship to explore how UK dairy farmers can benefit from…

Insights

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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).…