Poor fertility performance in cattle is the principal impediment to the profitability of Irish dairy farmers, says one Teagasc expert.
Dr Pat Dillon, head of Teagasc animal and grassland, research and innovation programme, will inform farmers how to improve the economic breeding index (EBI) of their herd at an open day at Moorepark Dairygold Research Farm in Kilworth, Co Cork, from 10am-3pm on Wednesday, April 9.
Dr Dillon said: “Poor fertility performance is still the number one barrier to profitable milk production in Ireland. A more compact calving pattern in early spring will allow dairy farmers to produce more milk and increase overall farm profit.
“The important components of achieving compact calving are breeding a high economic breeding index herd, generating high-quality replacement heifers, maintaining an optimum cow body condition score, achieving high herd health status plus the timely treatment of problem cows, including late calvers with appropriative reproductive treatment.”
Dr Dillon is one of a panel of expert speakers who will address the Teagasc open day for dairy farmers entitled ‘Breeding Strategies for an Expanding Dairy Industry’.
This open day will direct dairy farmers on breeding strategies for the coming breeding season. Fertility performance has improved on Irish dairy farms, but performance continues to be substantially below optimum levels, negatively impacting on milk supply patterns and dairy farm profit.
Based on ICBF data, the average calving interval is 394 days compared to an industry target of 365 days. Similarly, the six-week calving rate of mature cows is 58% compared to an industry target of 70%.
The Next Generation Dairy Herd, being evaluated by Teagasc at the Dairygold research farm, will be exhibited, with their findings.
Meanwhile, the Irish Grassland Association will present the latest results from robotic milking.
Two international speakers, Professors Matt Lucy and Paul Fricke, have been invited to speak. Both have played important roles in US and international cattle fertility programmes.
An open forum will discuss developments in reproductive technologies. Dairy farmers can meet with ICBF, AHI and the main AI organisations.
Source Irish Examiner