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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HEALTH AND WELFARE

How dairy farmer has cut neospora infection by 25%

A Welsh dairy farm’s policy of not breeding heifer replacements from cows that test positive for neospora and being meticulous with biosecurity has helped to reduce herd infection from more…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How Wilts farmer manages herd extensively with minimal labour

Compact calving, outwintering of all cattle and forage-only finishing is enabling herd manager Robert Huxley to run the 250-suckler herd at Yews Farm on the Longford Estate in Salisbury, largely…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Cross-bred cows v Holstein: How they compare

Researchers from the University of Minnesota have been comparing the performance of three-way-cross cows (made up of Viking Red, Montbeliarde and Holstein) to Holsteins. Their studies have compared feed intake; milk…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How a Lleyn breeder increased lamb cheque by £5.50 a lamb

Worcestershire farmers Marcus and Kathryn Bullock and their daughter Kate have seen a 2kg lift in scanning weights in the last 10 years and a 10% increase in lambs born…

SHEEP

How a Welsh hill flock improved market returns and cut costs

Making sweeping changes to management systems on a hard hill farm was out of the question for the Jones family when considering how to add value to their flock. Instead…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How a Charolais herd is improving its maternal traits

Investing in easy-calving bulls has brought significant gains in the maternal figures of the pedigree Charolais herd at Falleninch Farm, Stirling, with their self-replacing index lifting by 9.8 index points…

Practical advice

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ASSESSING PERFORMANCE

Advice on selecting flock replacements

Ewe productivity is linked directly to flock profitability so selecting replacements is crucial to future performance. Foot and udder health, the condition of teeth and mouth and overall body condition…

HEALTH AND WELFARE

Vet Viewpoint: Advice on dairy heat stress and Johne's

Unsurprisingly, the heatwave has raised issues for vets across the UK. Rob Davies from Camarthenshire and David McCrea from Cumbria are both warning farmers to beware of heat stress and…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

How to combat heat stress in cattle to protect fertility

The hot and dry summer is making fertility more challenging, with food shortages and animals more likely to suffer from heat stress. In the latest edition of Fertility Focus, Ricardo…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Advice for rearing heifers from weaning to calving

In the UK 36% of heifers are 30 months or older at their first calving. But in order to optimise fertility and milk production from these animals, the target should…

BREEDING AND FERTILITY

Pelvic measuring cuts assisted calvings and calf losses

Dismissing heifers with suboptimal pelvic size before breeding has helped more than halve assisted calvings from 20% of the total to 9% and cut calf losses from 8.6% to 3%…

LIVESTOCK

4 steps to ensure heifers are on track to calve at 24 months

We all need to build more resilient businesses in this tough world of market volatility and the starting point on all dairy farms is the birth of the calf. What…

Insights

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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…

LIVESTOCK

The future of pig breeding: 2030 and beyond

When it comes to developments in the pig sector, selective breeding and estimated breeding values are held up as two of the technologies which revolutionised the industry. However, the latest…