Arrabawn | Breeding & Fertility Workshop 2019
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Breeding & Fertility Workshop 2019

All things breeding were discussed on Pat & Martin Kennedy’s farm last Friday 5th of April. There was a good crowd in attendance which heard presentations from Morgan Sheehy (Devenish Nutrition), Martina Gormley (Teagasc Dairy Specialist), Michael Hogan and Padraig Costigan (Teagasc Nenagh). Patrick and Martin farm outside Toomevara, North Tipperary. Like many farms they have expanded their herd in recent years and currently milk 197 cows on 56ha milking platform. The milking block stocking rate is 3.5lu/ha while the whole farm with 120ha is stocked at 2.5lu/ha.

The future goal is to milk 220 cows on the same milking platform (SR 3.9). The main focus on the farm is to maximise output while keeping cost down. Last year 1.25T of meal was fed per cow. The farm sold 480kg MS/cow in 2018 with 3.45% protein and 4.16% Fat. Martin has outlined the future goal is to produce 500kg MS + on 1 tonne of concentrate or less. Another aspect which Martin continues to focus on is improving the type of cow and producing saleable calves. There were four focus boards which dealt with Sire Advice, body condition and heat detection, synchronisation, sexed semen and the breeding calendar.

Morgan Sheedy of Devenish Nutrition focused on Nutrition of the cow at key times of the year. Michael Hogan discussed the targets which should be used for picking bulls. He suggested that bulls have an EBI greater than
€200, fertility greater than €80 and milk around €50. Padraig Costigan showed farmers how to body condition score cows. Cows should be body condition scored in October and again in February to ensure cows have adequate body condition for calving and breeding. All cows should have a BCS greater than 2.75 at breeding. Thin cows should be put on once a day as early as possible after calving to ensure they have enough time to recover condition. Padraig also discussed the importance of heat detection to detect non cycling cows.

All cows need a 30-day waiting period after calving before they can be bred but cows calved more than 30 days and not cycling require attention. Martina outlined the synchronisation protocol for heifers and discussed the use of sexed semen. Deciding on a mating end date now before breeding is important in order to keep the breeding season within 12 weeks. Martina outlined some key points regarding using sexed semen – submit cows >60 DIM, submit cows <3rd parity, sexed bull team EBI €250.

Morgan Sheehy discussed the importance of the correct BCS at calving and breeding and the effects it can have on performance. Morgan also outlined the importance of getting silage tested for minerals and matching your dry cow mineral to the cow’s needs.

A key point taken from Morgan’s presentation was that 80% of issues can be prevented/controlled during the transition period (3 weeks before calving to 3 weeks after calving) and this period determines profit for the entire lactation. Special thanks to our host farmers Patrick & Martin Kennedy, our speakers Martina Gormley, Michael Hogan, Padraig Costigan and Morgan Sheehy and to all
the farmers that attended the workshop.