Dr John Ryan
Herd reproductive performance is a common frustration for many dairy farmers. The old adage, “you can’t improve what you don’t measure” holds true when applied to herd reproductive performance.
With a little planning and preparation pregnancy testing can provide you with accurate and detailed information allowing you to:
- Identify empty cows
- Plan drying off for individual cows to maximise lactation lengths and individual cow profitability
- Determine expected calving pattern for feed budgeting.
- Determine expected AI replacement calves allowing informed culling and buying decisions
- Allow for efficient induction planning before inductions are phased out completely
- Review joining performance of both AI and natural matings, benchmark results and plan for the next mating
Gain maximum benefit
To gain maximum benefit from pregnancy testing it is important to have the following:
Accurate cow ID and recording
Accurate cow identification and recording of results is essential. Ideally a designated recorder is assigned so they are not distracted by having multiple jobs or responsibilities.
Have a safe facility for both the cow and operator. People concerned about the safety of cows or operators may be rushed or distracted and in these cases mistakes are more likely.
Joining records should be supplied to us before the visit using wall charts, joining books or electronic copies from farmer or herd centre systems – we will arrive for the job with a list of cows and the weeks of their mating dates, allowing us to match a pregnancy to an individual joining date in many cases.
Plan to preg test cows so they are between 6 and 15 weeks in calf. This 8-9 week window is the time we are most accurate. This will usually mean that you will need at least two preg test visits.
We can provide extra staff for recording, preg test trolleys for use in herringbone dairies, as well as preg test lists before the job and expected calving and dry off lists after the job. Talk to one of our veterinarians when planning your next preg test to ensure you get the most out of the job.