On suckler farms that calve cows during August and September, breeding will have started in late October.

Therefore, now is the time to pay attention to the first cows mated for signs of repeat breeding activity.

In most cases, early morning and late evening tend to be the best times to observe cows for heat activity.

Spend at least 20 minutes during each observation and allow cows to go about their natural behaviour. This means don’t be pushing in silage when watching cows.

The more time spent watching cows, the better. Make use of cameras in sheds or aids such as tail paint, as some cows can have short, or weak standing heats that are easily missed.


The cows served in the first few weeks of the breeding season should be the most fertile animals in the herd.

Under good herd management, there should be low levels of repeat breeding activity with these more fertile cows.

If high numbers of cows do come back in heat, then there may be a fertility problem or the diet may not be supplying adequate energy and protein.

Also, keep in mind that if cows were housed in the middle of the breeding season, the sudden change in diet and environment can impact negatively on conception rates, leading to higher repeat breeding activity.

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