Herd Fertility and InCalf Programme
Herd fertility is a fundamental driver of farm productivity and profitability. If your cows are failing to get in calf, or not getting in calf in a timely manner, this will be affecting your bottom line through increased culling and less days in milk.
Improving herd fertility isn’t easy. It takes time to implement changes and for
these improvements to flow through as results in the herd. Also, there is very
rarely a silver bullet. Herd reproduction is complex and there are multiple
areas that impact on the overall performance.
The InCalf program was introduced to New Zealand as a result of the declining
fertility of the national herd. It is a herd fertility advisory program that aims to:
- Assess herd fertility and potential economic gains
- Identify key areas for improvement
- Implement changes that fit with your system
- Review those changes to ensure they were successful
We know the importance of good herd fertility on farm, and are committed to improving reproductive performance across the district. At Te Puke Vets, we have four InCalf advisors at the clinic who are happy to talk to with you. If you would like to find out more about the InCalf programme, click the photo on the right.
Having non-cycling cows at mating is a common problem faced on farm. Non cyclers reduce herd reproductive performance as they don’t get mated early, their first heat is sub-fertile and some don’t have regular returns for subsequent mating’s. Having a proportion of cows not cycling at the start of mating is entirely normal, but not ideal.
There are many risk factors that will contribute to a cow becoming a non-cycler including:
- Calving date (late calvers),
- Age (young),
- Breed (Friesian, Holstein),
- Undergrown young stock,
- Body condition score (especially if light at previous calving)
- Reproductive health issues
Assuming heat detection is OK, in the ideal situation 85% of the herd should be seen cycling by the planned start of mating. It is important to ensure pre-mating heat detection starts 5 week prior to the planned start of mating so you have the information available to know if you have a non-cycler problem.
Reducing the number of non-cyclers can be highly profitable; however there will always still be a small proportion of anoestrus cows every mating, regardless of prevention strategies. Intervention with non-cycling cows with hormonal treatment can be successful and is most profitable if carried out early.
Our clinic is very familiar with all the latest programs – there are a number to choose from. The biggest trap in anoestrus cow programs is not getting organised early enough. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you are concerned about the level of non-cyclers in your herd this year.
Endometritis is a common condition following calving. Much attention has been drawn to it in recent years as researchers have fully measured impact on subsequent fertility. Endometritis is the inflammation of the inner lining of the uterus.
During calving bacteria enter the reproductive tract, and in a proportion of cows an infection persists. The infection involves production of a white-yellow pus and occasionally smell. Some, but not all cows show an external discharge of pus and mucous.
This will disturb the normal hormonal function of the uterus, delaying cycling and making the uterus less likely to support an embryo. Reductions in submission rate and conception rate can result in reductions in pregnancy rate (approximately 25% reduction at day 21 post service). Reductions in final not in calf (empty) rates have also been reported.
What should I do?
Cows affected by endometritis don’t always have a discharge making it difficult to determine the level of infection in the herd. Metrichecking can assist with a more accurate diagnosis of infected cows and allow them to be treated in the timely manner.
The most common treatment is infusion of an antibiotic into the uterus. Broad spectrum injectable treatments may also work. These treatments improve the fertility outcomes of affected animals.
Retained membranes, assisted calvings, twins, abortion, downer cows and concurrent disease (eg. Ketosis) are all associated with increased rates of endometritis. If you have had problems with any of these conditions this spring, or notice vaginal discharge contact the clinic as endometritis may be impacting on your reproduction.
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Local farmers, associated rural communities and Te Puke town people have supported Te Puke Vet Centre for over 50 years. During those years scores of receptionists, nurses and vets have lived and enjoyed the benefits of this great town and area. It is very important for Te Puke Vets that we are strongly integrated with the local community and as part of that we are proud to support many local schools, sports clubs, service organisations and community events.