Using An App To Tighten The Calving Spread

Patrick Bolger

| Cattle & Dairy

| May 10, 2017

Herdwatch farmer using app in parlour

Niall Mason is a Dairy and Beef farmer from Ballyseedy, Co. Kerry. Niall farms with his parents John and Carol in a partnership. When Niall originally went into partnership with his parents over three years ago, Niall made a decision to do things right from the start.  He wanted to eliminate any unnecessary hardship and keeping the calving spread tight was key to this.


A tight Calving spread will reduce workload
Niall and his father John.
Spring is a hectic time of year on the farm between feeding calves, spreading fertiliser, calving the last few cows and managing the breeding season. Since signing up to Herdwatch 3 years ago, Niall has found it far easier to manage this busy period.  When he first signed up, Niall just used the app for calf registrations and Bord Bia remedies. Three years down the line, Niall now finds the breeding management section of the app priceless.

Pre-Heat Detection is key

Niall records his heat detections in Herdwatch for a month before his cows are due to be served with AI. This way, he can check in Herdwatch what cows are due to be in heat and Niall always knows which cows to keep an eye out for during milking.

It is particularly helpful because sometimes it can be hard to see if the tail paint has been rubbed off a cow’s back.

Tail painting helps shorten your calving spread
Niall tail painting on his farm at Ballyseedy, Co. Kerry.

Recording AI Serves on the Spot

Niall performs his own Artificial Insemination (AI), he records the serves into Herdwatch as they happen. All Cows and maiden heifers get AI first and are cleaned-up with one of his two easy calving Aberdeen Angus bulls.

Niall also records the bull serve into the app as well and because Herdwatch is linked to ICBF, all breeding records on the app will automatically be sent onto ICBF immediately.

 “If you don’t record these serves on the spot, there’s a chance that they could be forgotten because there is so much going on this time of the year”.

Tightening The Calving Spread

Niall has tightened up his calving spread majorly, in the last few years. Calving went from mid- January to June a few years back, to May this year. In 2018, Niall plans to finish calving in April.

“It’s not possible to shorten the calving spread too much, too quickly but year on year we are getting it down, we need to pull it back another 4 weeks before we are happy with our calving spread”.

No substitute for experience

Niall puts all this improvement down to a combination of recording his heat detection and serves on the spot, which gives him the right information when he needs it and also experience, as he accumulates more and more farm knowledge.

“A 10 week  calving spread would be ideal, that way I can have some quality of life outside of farming.”

Try the app for free

Getting set up on Herdwatch has never been easier, farmers can now simply download the app and sign up to the FREE-PLAN.

The new Free-Plan which allows farmers to:

  • Download their Herd from APHIS (NI), BCMS (UK) or Agfood (IRL) 
  • Record 5 calf registrations
  • Record their medicine purchases
  • Record Heat detection and general tasks




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