Calving targets can be met with right factors

The month of May usually marks the end of lambing and calving therefore you would assume that work on farms is starting to reduce.

There are a number of factors that can aid good calving, including nutrition, infectious disease control and optimal bull fertility.

However, the contrary is true as May tends to be the month that cattle are turned out to grass after winter housing, which results in numerous veterinary jobs.

This week has been a busy one, pregnancy testing autumn calving cows and fertility testing bulls. It is important for a farm to know which cows are in calf and which are not to make decisions over where to put them for grazing.

So far, autumn calvers have pregnancy tested well this year so we are expecting a good crop of calves. The aim is for a herd to achieve 95 per cent of their cows calving within a nine-week period. While this is an achievable target, it requires many factors such as nutrition, infectious disease control and bull fertility to be optimal.

Infectious diseases are controlled mainly through the use of excellent animal husbandry and herd vaccination, which is often carried out at the same time as pregnancy testing.

Cows are vaccinated annually to control diseases such as Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD), Leptospirosis and Clostridial. The aim is to prevent infection and reduce the incidence of disease, which reduces the requirement for antibiotics, promoting healthy, productive animals and safe food.

It is said that bulls are ‘half the herd’. In fact, without functioning bulls, there would not be much of a herd at all. So a month of so before breeding season we recommend getting all bulls tested for breeding soundness. This encompasses the ability to walk well, have good overall health and production of good semen.

One in five bulls are sub-fertile or infertile so this simple procedure is of paramount importance.