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Top tips for suckler farmers: Preparing for a successful breeding season

Rachel Rose

| Cattle & Dairy

| Jun 3, 2024

Managing suckler cows during the breeding season is incredibly important to maximise farm output.This crucial period is the backbone of your farm’s productivity, and proper preparation can make all the difference. To help you gear up, we have compiled some essential tips to ensure a smooth and successful breeding season:

1.Monitor Body Condition Score (BCS) and cow nutrition

Try to avoid loss of BCS between calving and the breeding season, this is because the hormones that control fertility are closely linked to nutrition. Keeping body condition loss to less than <0.5 BCS is proven to increase the likelihood of conception on first service. For sucklers, 2.5 is the generally recommended BCS at breeding. Cows should aim to return to the bull 45-50 days after calving.

2.Review your herd vaccination plan

Make sure you are up to date on vaccinations – a healthy cow is more likely to conceive and carry a calf full term.

3.Check bull fertility

Bull fertility is critical to your breeding season.

4.Consider synchronised breeding

Scynchronised breeding allows you to define your calving period, which results in more calves being born earlier in the calving period, leading to heavier weaning weights and better prices when it comes to selling stock.

5.Check your inventory

Make sure you have the necessary supplies in advance of your breeding season, especially if you use A.I.

6.Make sure you are up to date with best practice

Ensure the team are up to date with farm safety and provide any necessary training for key practices such as Artificial Insemination.

How Herdwatch can help!

During the breeding season Herdwatch can be particularly useful in helping farmers track and manage the health and productivity of their herd.

1.Heat observations can easily be recorded in the Herdwatch app by following these simple steps:

>Click Breeding.

>Tap the Orange Plus Button (+) in the bottom right hand corner.

>Select Heat Observation.

>Set your reminder in days.

>Set the number of cycles you want to be reminded for (i.e.21 or 42 days).

>Tap Next.

>Select the animal in heat.

>Tap Save.

When the animal is due, you will receive a push notification and she will appear in the Watchboard under Heat Due Today. So you know to keep a closer eye on her!

The Watchboard covers two main are for breeding records:

  • Watch for Repeat – The Watch for Repeat view shows a list of cows who need to be watched for a possible repeat as they were served between 20 and 22 days ago.
  • Heat Due Today – This view will show any animals that are suspected to be on heat from a heat observation task. This is mainly used in the weeks leading up to the breeding season start date.

Receiving a daily reminder (in the morning), that there’s cows due to repeat or due to be bulling, means you never miss a chance to get your cows in calf!

2.Monitor Body Condition Scores

Farmers can also record the body condition score (BCS) of their breeding cows and heifers within the app, providing valuable insights into the health and well-being of their animals.

3.Keep on top of your treatments and inventory

Simply scan your medications and vaccines directly into the app. Once they are logged, users can simply select a product from the desktop or mobile app. Make sure everyone on your team is fully aware of what they should be documenting.

Join over 22,000 farmers saving time on farm paperwork and managing their livestock efficiently by downloading the Herdwatch app today.

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