With the breeding season just around the corner, Teagasc drystock advisor, Michael Daly, shares some tips on how to get your sucker cows ready for breeding.
In a video produced by Teagasc Tipperary, the drystock advisor provides a general overall checklist for suckler farmers ahead of the breeding season.
The guidelines issued in the video are as follows:
Daly outline the following as the aims for the breeding season in a suckler herd:
- 365 days calving interval;
- 1 calf/cow/year;
- 12-week calving interval;
- Heifers to calve at 24-months.
Body condition score (BCS)
Identify thin cows (BCS below 2.5). Increasing the BCS of a cow will result in a quicker return to heat cycle. To achieve this, all cows, especially thin cows, need to be on a high plane of nutrition.
Check the weights of replacement heifers to make sure they are at 60-65% of their mature weight at breeding.
Herd health plan
Review and update your current herd vaccination programme with your local veterinary practitioner in advance of the start of the breeding season.
Use this time to record cows that are showing signs of heat as it may be advisable to conduct a pre-breeding scan on certain cows to identify potential issues.
Bull fertility can vary from year to year, and if in doubt, consult with your vet to conduct a bull fertility test ahead of the breeding season.
Also check for any signs of lameness, high tem0perature or poor body condition.
Where using a team of bulls, rotate the bulls to avoid any infertility and check cows for infertility.
For farmers using AI, research your AI catalogues well in advance and pick a team of bulls to suit your farming system.
Take care with calving difficulty percentages and its reliability, especially with bulls for heifers and heavily muscled mature cows.
Purchase in advance the heat detection products you plan to use, such as heat pads and tail paint. Alternatively, have a teaser bull in place on the farm.
Plan your grassland rotation so that cows are relatively close to the yard for AI.
Depending on your number of replacements, identify which cows you plan to cull.
Prior to the start of breeding, decide on a definite start date and end date for breeding. Be realistic with you breeding targets for the year and plan in advance.
Video source: Teagasc Tipperary Facebook