Improved fertility results in increased flexibility to better manage both the farm and the herd. One example of this is choosing the calving pattern and the best time to calve. This flexibility is lost as fertility declines.
A fertile herd:
- Is more profitable
- Has better lifetime performance
- Is generally healthier and more productive
- Calves more easily and in the required period
- Offers more opportunity to sell surplus animals or increase herd size
- Is more resilient, flexible, adaptable and responsive to management than less fertile herds
Improved performance can make a sizeable impact on a farm's bottom line and simplify farm management. The value of these benefits depends on how much the herd’s reproductive performance increases.
InCalf tools enable dairy farmers to estimate the economic benefits to be gained from improving the herd’s reproductive performance.
The following pages contain information to help dairy farmers with some of the fundamentals of herd fertility, including heifer management, mating, cow health at calving and managing calving patterns as well as a list of ReproRight advisors.
Reliable, accurate measures of herd reproductive performance offer both a starting point for identifying areas for improvement and provide a means of monitoring progress and effectiveness as change is implemented.
It is one thing to realise there are opportunities for improvement, but another to take advantage of them. Accurate and timely record keeping, regular measuring and checking against the targets helps to identify these opportunities.
How a farmer responds to these opportunities is an individual choice. It is important to monitor the costs of change compared to expected benefits. Advisors can be a valuable support mechanism in each step of the process and provide ideas for change, what to do and how to do it.
Use your network
There is a network of advisors from the veterinary, farm advisor, nutritional, agronomy, herd improvement and breeding fields that can help dairy farmers achieve their herd fertility goals. Each advisor offers specific knowledge, skills and experience. It is important these advisors talk to each other about the farm’s reproductive program and, when appropriate, to cooperate in its implementation.
The InCalf project has a number of resources that cover all the key areas necessary for improving a herd’s reproductive performance.