Fertility management policy

 

Low conception rates of Holstein cows seem to be a huge challenge to the dairy herds being kept in TMR (Total Mixed Rations) systems. The management staff at the Mooimelk Cow Hotel have implemented a number of measures to improve conception rates:

  1. The use of test semen with double strength sperm cells (20 million live sperms) per straw of semen.

  2. The use of a veterinarian on a monthly basis to ensure cows are clean by the time they have to be inseminated. To ensure that cows do cycle, a cider programme is also used.

  3. Avoid the use of natural service bulls because of the risk of venereal disease.

  4. Supplementation of minerals, trace elements and vitamins are administered to all fresh cows within a month after calving.

  5. A bonus of R10 per cow to the inseminator, for all cows that are certified in calf by the veterinarian.

  6. A bonus of R2 per cow to the heat spotter, for all cows that are certified in calf. On average 350 cows are being inseminated every month.

  7. Tail painting of all cows due to come on heat.

  8. Insemination facilities are under roof so that cows do not stand in the sun when waiting to be inseminated.

  9. Inseminators and heat spotters are sent on AI training courses to improve their skills and knowledge of AI.

     

FERTILITY TARGETS AND ACHIEVEMENTS

Conception of cows is vital for the economic survival of a dairy.

Targets as set and monitored in the Mooimelk Cow Hotel are as follows:

Number of cows inseminated every month as a percentage of the cows in milk

January 2007 405 / 1 300 31.2%
February 2007 464 / 1 346 34.4%
March 2007 529 / 1 313 40.2%
April 2007 514 / 1 236 41.6%
May 2007 335 / 1 312 25.5%
June 2007 353 / 1 350 26.3%

Conception rates during the hot summer months can be as low as 12%. This is mainly as a result of heat stress when cows do not have shade. That explains the reason why more than 30% of the cow herd was inseminated during the months of January to April. In May and June the percentage of cows inseminated reduced to around 25% - confirming that more cows conceived when the climate changed to autumn.

Of all cows presented to the vet monthly for pregnancy tests, the results were as follows:

 

% Cow CIC by vet

Percentage of herd CIC (Certified in calf)

January 2007 79.3% 41.6%
February 2007 77.1% 35.6%
March 2007 80.3% 36.5%
April 2007 84.0% 37.4%
May 2007 84.1% 32.0%
June 2007 81.3% 38.6%
 
 
 

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