Breeding performance of the first-cross Angus and Hereford cows has been one of the consistent positives from Newford Farm in recent years.

The 2021 season is shaping up to continue this trend.

Michael Fagan of Teagasc reports 74 cows out of the 83 mature cows put forward for breeding have been inseminated in the first 19 days of breeding.

Cows are being inseminated daily at noon, with 100% AI being used.

If a cow is inseminated at noon and she is still displaying standing heat again that evening that same cow will be inseminated again the next day at noon.

Experience from recent years shows there can generally be in the region of 15% of cows receiving a second immediate insemination.

The extra cost of using an additional straw is covered by reduced labour in handling cows once daily as opposed to twice daily while the practice is also seen as contributing to the herd’s impressive breeding performance and returning a value from having calves born earlier.

Heat detection

A number of heat detection aids are being used in the herd.

Tail painting cows and running a vasectomised bull fitted with a chin ball with each of the two batches of cows has worked well in recent years.

This year the farm has also invested in the Moocall Heat system. Cows are fitted with an electronic tag while the vasectomised bull is fitted with a collar. When a cow is in heat a text message with the tag number of the cow in heat is sent to a nominated mobile phone.

Cows are also being monitored regularly throughout the breeding season.

This is particularly important at the start of the season when there may be a number of cows in heat on any given day which poses a risk on rare occasions of a vasectomised bull concentrating on one or two cows and not marking a cow in heat or spending enough time mounting to generate a message from the Moocall Heat system.

Sire selection

Sire selection has been covered in recent weeks but it is worth recapping. Table 1 details the sires selected for the 2021 breeding season.

The sires major on different traits and this will be used to match particular cows to particular sires to address any shortcomings and enhance the quality of progeny produced. The selection criteria used is detailed below.

  • Five-star terminal index (within and across).
  • < 8 % calving difficulty for strong mature cows (beef cow).
  • < 5.8 % calving difficulty for young cows (beef cow).
  • 70% reliability on the calving difficulty index.
  • 2.25 score on conformation.
  • <5.8 % for first-calvers (beef heifer): 80 % reliability.
  • 35kg predicted carcase weight for mature cows.
  • 25kg predicted carcase weight for young cows and heifers.
  • Cost of straws less than €18.
  • Replacement heifers

    The 26 Angus and Hereford cross replacement heifers were synchronised on 13 April and artificially inseminated on 21 April.

    Michael reports that the synchronisation programme looks to have been relatively successful, with five heifers repeating and AIs accordingly.