I’m hoping calving will have concluded before breeding gets under way but there are three stragglers holding up proceedings.

Provided there are no fertility issues, the target is to try and get a week or two between the two events next year.

Most cows and calves go out to grass within 24 hours as long as there isn’t heavy rain. This year the farm is partaking in a pilot for DNA registration of calves and I’ve been impressed with it.

It threw up one major surprise when I got the dam of a calf wrong.

One morning in late March I found a cow had calved a fortnight early and there was a pair of almost identical twin heifers.

I checked through the rest of the cows in the pen to make sure it wasn’t two cows that had calved.

When I went to complete the registration on the ICBF website I got a land

All was fine on that side of the slatted shed so I put them on straw and made sure they got colostrum and went about my day. There was no sign of anything stirring on the other side of the feed passage either. Cows were springing away and would be drafted to the straw area if they were getting close to calving.


Usually there would be five or so sets of twins every year and as invariably happens there’s almost always one pair where the cow doesn’t want to know about the second calf.

This was one of those cases. Good and bad luck combined to rectify things. A heifer’s calf had to be put down as it had a twisted gut so I said I’d adopt the unwanted twin to her. When I went to complete the registration on the ICBF website I got a land. These weren’t twins and the mother of the unwanted twin was on the other side of the shed.

Strange incident in the night

At some point during the night, the two cows had calved either side of the feed passage. One calf got out through the feed barrier, crossed the passage and went in through the other barrier. I expected a few corrections on the sire side as a result of using DNA. When changing from AI to bull or changing bulls midseason you’re never guaranteed the correct bull every time. The lesson there was never underestimate the ability of a newborn calf to move.

I’ve been impressed with the DNA registration. The process is straightforward but a potential stumbling block at farm level is the need for two tissue tags and the chance they could be mixed up.

For simplicity at tagging, if the programme is to become the main method for registering calves than the need for BVD testing to be wrapped up would reduce the amount of potential mix ups.

It might be OK on a smaller herd but in a larger herd such as some of the dairy ones and with different labour employed simplicity will be key.

Silage scheme

The news that there is to be a payment for silage production should help reduce the risk of fodder issues next spring. The money will go further on some farms more than others. To some farmers 10ha is a corner of a field while to others it’s larger than their farms. The reaction to it will be interesting to observe.