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The effect of poor fertility

The hidden costs of poor fertility are:
  • Loss of milk production - less milk sales due to fewer animals calving per year
  • Early culling; results in more replacements having to be reared, or brought in. This, combined with loss of production, will equate to about £120 per cow per year net replacement cost (John Nix handbook 2013). With heifer replacements costing £1,200, reducing the replacement rate, putting animals in calf to beef to get a higher calf price and producing higher milk volumes from mature cows, is a great way of increasing profitability
  • Disruption to the next years calving and milk production pattern; especially important for farmers on seasonal calving plans or for those aiming to maintain a level production profile - you need to know which animals are not in calf so that they can be got back in calf quickly, or managed out of the herd in a timely manner
  • Reduced calf sales and lower prices; less cows calving per year than expected reduces the calf income, and if the replacement rate improves, more income can be generated by either selling surplus heifers, or using beef sires to increase the sale price of the calves
  • Loss of valuable genetics - animals culled early have less chance of passing their genetic traits onto the next generation
Fertility profit pointers
Calving Index:  NMR Average – 400 Days

Whilst the Calving Index is the best known of all the fertility indices, it is historic (looking back over two previous calvings), and therefore cannot affect the current lactation.

80 Day Served Rate: Target - 60% Served at 80 Days

The percentage of animals served at 80 days since the last calving. Gives a good indication of animal health and heat detection.

100 Day in Calf Rate: Target 45% Animals Pregnant at 100 Days

The percentage of animals pregnant at 100 days from the last calving. Embryo loss is an issue - 7-10% of animals reabsorb embryos, or lose them within 60 days of the last service. Nutrition is also an area that needs attention if this index is poor.

200 Day Not in Calf Rate: Target Less Than 30%

The percentage of animals not pregnant at 200 days since the last calving.

All the other indices conspire to produce this final result, how many animals are not in calf at 200 days. The herds replacement rate is directly affected by this. Target: less than 30 percent of animals not pregnant at 200 days after the last calving.