On suckler farms where autumn calving begins in August, many farmers started serving cows in late October to early November.

This means that cows served at the outset of the month which did not hold to first service will show signs of repeat breeding activity over the next week.

Therefore, make time to watch for cows coming back in heat. Aim to spend 20 to 30 minutes in the morning and again at night.

A third observation period in the afternoon is beneficial, but may not be a realistic option for herd owners with employment off-farm.


When watching cows for heat activity, allow them to go about their natural behaviour. Do not start pushing silage up to the feed face when you enter the shed or disturb them too much when walking around pens.

There are aids to help with heat detection and these can be beneficial in autumn herds, as cows can show weaker heats on slats.

Examples of such aids include tail paint. It is a low-cost option and can be easily applied to the tail head of cows as they stand and eat at the feed face.

Locking calves in the creep pen so that suckling is restricted to morning and evening not only brings cows back into heat much faster after calving, there is a tendency for cows to exhibit much stronger heats.

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