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Reproductive Management of Dairy Cows with Particular Reference to Organic Systems Michael G Diskin & Frank Kelly Animal Production Research Centre, Teagasc, Mellows Campus, Athenry, Co. Galway. Biological Efficiency. Reproduction . Production Efficiency. Profitability.

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Reproductive Management of Dairy Cows with Particular Reference to Organic Systems Michael G Diskin & Frank KellyAnimal Production Research Centre, Teagasc, Mellows Campus, Athenry, Co. Galway.


Biological Efficiency

Reproduction

Production Efficiency

Profitability


Overall Requirements for Organic Milk Production Systems

  • Compact seasonal calving patterns,

  • Maximal production from grazed grass,

  • Low involuntary culling rates

  • Continuous genetic improvement of the herd


Reproductive Targets

Compact Calving: 90% calved in < 80 days

Low Culling Rate for infertility: < 5%.

Calving Interval: 365 day calving-to-calving.


Shortening Post-partum interval

Improving Reproductive efficiency

Submission Rates

Conception Rates


Post-Partum Interval

Dairy CowsMean=26 days(15-50 Days)

Beef CowsMean=55 days(25-180 Day)


Postpartum reproduction - cattle

Aim to have a calf per cow per year with peak lactation to correspond with peak grass growth


To Ensure Rapid Onset of Oestrous Cycles Post Calving

  • Cows calve in a moderate BCS

  • Ensure high DM intakes post calving & minimise BCS loss – Minimise Negative Energy Balance (NEB)

  • Calve heifers early

  • Consistently use Sire with strongly positive sub indices for Fertility


Main Factors Affecting Pregnancy Rate

Conception Rate

Pregnancy Rate

Heat Detection Rate


The Effect of Different Heat Detection and Conception Rate on % of Herd Pregnant at 90 Days After Onset of Breeding Season


Heat Detection


Breeding

  • Use of AI

  • Heat detection

  • Factors affecting conception rate


Primary Sign of Heat


Secondary Signs of Heat

  • Sliming

  • Restlessness

  • Mounting activity

  • Trailing other cows

  • Bellowing

  • Mounting or dirt marks

  • Skin Marks

  • Met-oestrous bleeding


Mucous vaginal discharge


Chin resting


Factors affecting the Expression of heatTeagasc, Athenry Results


Effect of underfoot surface on number of mounts received per heifer during standing heat.


Effect of underfoot surface on duration of heat


Effect of number of heifers in heat simultaneously on the number of mounts received heifer during standing heat.


Duration of Standing Heat

  • Average = 8 -14 hours (Range 3-30 hours)

  • Similar for cows and heifers

  • Range 3-30 hours

  • Interruptions in standing activity


Pattern of heat Onset


Improving heat detection

  • Commitment and understanding heat behaviour

  • Tail paint

  • Oestrus Alert Patches

  • Teaser Bull


Teaser Bulls

  • Use yearling bull

  • Vasectomise 6 weeks before intended use

  • Fit with chin-ball 2-3 weeks before introduction to herd

  • Castrate or sell at end of breeding season


Management Factors Affecting Conception Rate


Reproductive OutcomesBritish Friesian vs Holstein Friesian

British Friesian 1980

Holstein Friesian 2005


10-15% decline in conception for each 0.5 unit change in BCS between calving and AI.

Change in BCS and conception rate


Effect of Calving to Service Interval on Conception Rate


Effect of AI timing on Conception Rate


Effect of Calving Difficulty on Conception Rate


Use High EBI (Economic Breeding Index sires)

EBI

Long-term improvement of cow fertility

Production: Yield fat + Protein

Reproduction: Calving interval

Cow survival


Summary -1

  • Calve cows in a moderate BCS

  • Minimise BCS loss in early lactation.

  • Have cows gaining in BCS at breeding.

  • Have heifers well-grown (350-380 kg) at 15 months.

  • Breed to calve early.

  • Minimise the risk of calving difficulty .


Summary -2

  • Increase submission rates by paying particular attention to heat detection.

  • Use tail-paint.

  • Carry out pre-breeding heat detection.

  • Ensure that the semen used is of high fertility

  • Use AI Sires with negative values for calving interval and positive values for survival

  • Correct AI technique

  • Inseminate cows at the correct time.


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