On spring-calving suckler farms, herd owners should now be watching cows for signs of repeat breeding activity.

Where breeding started back in mid-May, cows have been with the bull for at least six weeks. Breeding activity should be starting to tail off if cows are settled in-calf.

If breeding started at the outset of June, these cows have been running with bulls for four weeks. Cows will have cycled at least once, with some animals having had a second standing heat during this period.

Again, if cows held to service, breeding activity should start to quieten down with less cows coming back in heat from this point on.


However, if you notice a high number of cows in heat in the next fortnight, the stock bull may not be working properly.

Early action will be needed to get cows in-calf and prevent a major slippage in the calving pattern. A semen test will confirm if the stock bull is fruitful or not.


If possible, another stock bull on-farm can be removed from a group of cows showing little sign of breeding activity.

Cows served in May and early June can be accurately scanned in-calf from 35 to 40 days after service, which may give farmers more confidence to remove a stock bull as replacement for an infertile one.

AI is also another option, but it will require good handling facilities on grazing ground and heat detection becomes an issue.

If purchasing a new bull, choice will be limited in July. Mature bulls will be better equipped to go straight to cows.

Younger bulls are a viable option, but cow numbers will need to be limited. Alternatively, a young bull could be used as a sweeper with another cow group, with a seasoned stock bull moved to the problem group of cows.

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