The breeding season has once again got off to a flying start on Newford Farm, with 93% of cows available for breeding submitted for AI in the first three weeks of the breeding season.

Breeding started on 20 April and by Thursday 12 May, 80 of the 83 cows put forward for breeding were inseminated.

Teagasc's Michael Fagan reports that the cows which had not been identified in heat were handled by the farm’s vet to identify if there were any underlying health issues.

He said that there was a cyst present in one of the cows, which has received veterinary treatment, while there was no issues identified with the other cows and they have since been inseminated.

Low level of repeats

The level of repeat heats is relatively low and is also in line with other years, being in the low double-digit figures.

Cows are being inseminated once daily at noon. Any cow which is exhibiting standing heat in the evening subsequent to being inseminated that day is being put forward for repeat insemination the following day.

There is more focus now being placed on vasectomised bulls to pick up heats, with a lower overall level of cows in heat. The bulls are fitted with a chin ball and MooCall Heat collars, while cows are also being tail painted.

Maiden heifers

The 23 maiden heifers are also running with a vasectomised bull and all of these were inseminated in the first three weeks of the breeding season.

Michael reports that the tail paint of heifers was not being rubbed off effectively via mounting by the teaser bull and, as such, tail paint patches are being used.

He says that these are working better and making it easier to notice heifers which are in heat.

Bullock weight update

Bullocks were weighed on 11 May, with the 43 animals in the batch averaging 504kg liveweight. The average daily gain of bullocks since animals were turned out on 23 March (at 454kg) was recorded at 1.03kg per day.

Heifers will be weighed in the coming weeks to review if they are on target for slaughtering at 16 months of age. Slaughtering heifers at 16 months of age is part of a tweak in the heifer production system for 2022.

The aim is to get heifers finished off-farm and drafted for slaughter earlier by prioritising heifers for early turnout (turned out at the end of January) and offering them the best-quality grass.

This, in turn, will hopefully reduce demand for grass as the season progresses and reduce the pressure on fertiliser use.