Mating season is approaching

Sound mating management is one area where the effort put in to achieve efficient mating of the herd will really pay dividends, it is a critical part of setting up a successful year ahead.

So what strategies are available for improving mating performance of your herd?

Pre-mating      

Ensure a body condition score (BCS) of 5.0 at calving. Cows that are less than condition score 4.5 at calving will have a submission rate 10% lower than cows that average 5.0. They will also have a 20% lower pregnancy rate to their first service.

Managing the nutrition of the springing and freshly calved cow to reduce metabolic disease and energy deficits, is essential.

Minimising weight loss between now and the planned start of mating (PSM). Cows that lose more than 1.5 BCS from calving to mating will have a 20% drop in pregnancy rate compared to cows that only lose 0.5 of a score after calving.

Tail paint cows at least 35 days before the planned start of mating. If you count your non-cycling cows 10 days before the start of mating you can get an indication of what your submission rate will be like at the start of mating - if more than 30% non-cyclers expect a slow start to mating.

Record all your at-risk cows and have them checked in the first 21 to 28 days post-calving for best results.

Mating

Accurate heat detection - it costs approximately $150 to $200 for every missed heat. Ensure you have experienced staff to do this or invest in training them. We can help you with this. Four observations a day for 30 minutes will detect more than 90% of your cycling cows compared to two observations a day for 30 minutes detecting around 70%.

Identify and treat non-cyclers early. Use of an intravaginal progesterone implant will increase the submission rate when used at the start of mating and they are most profitable when used early in the mating programme, i.e. a week before the PSM.

Consider use of short-gestation bulls for second round inseminations, their use will help to keep calving spread more compact and decrease numbers of late calvers. See Barny's article on bull management on page four.

Please don't hesitate to talk to your vet for a tailored mating plan for your herd.