Sunday, July 3, 2022

Cycle options

Heifer mating can increase an animal’s productivity and profitability. Eastland Veterinary Services vet John Meban warned farmers at a Parikanapa Station open day, where yearling heifers are mated, that it can be difficult to do consistently under summer dry conditions typical for Gisborne. “We really do need more flexibility in our system to reduce feed demand in summer dry if we’re going to be heifer mating,” Meban said.

Foetal aging at pregnancy scanning identifies calves conceived in the first, second and third cycles (cows are only mated for two-and-a-half cycles), providing the option to sell the third cycle cows if there are enough vetted-in-calf cows in the first two cycles.

Foetal aging also helped reduce calving spread to 35 days.

Meban said to maximise the benefit of breeding cows they needed to be complementary, not competitive, to other livestock classes.

A good turnout at the Parikanapa Station open day inspects some cattle.

It was important to focus on the aspects that could be controlled, such as cow condition score (CS) and feeding levels, mating and calving dates.

Ideally, 70-75% of cows would conceive in the first cycle.

“If fewer than 50% of cows are going in the first cycle you’re mating too early.”

Optimum CS at calving was 3 to 3.5. Cows should be maintained between 2.5 and 3.5 CS.

The national average calving percentage was in the mid to low 80s. Even though cows ate poorer quality pastures, that was still a huge wastage.

“That implies that one in five cows is unproductive.”

Current cow performance

  • 330 yearling heifers 89% in-calf – 42-day mating
  • 256 R2/2 cows 96% in calf – 54-day mating
  • 760 mixed-age cows 92% in-calf – 54-day mating

Bulls service tested

  • Bulls/cows BVD and 7 in 1 vaccinated
  • Copper in autumn

Cow performance goals
• For 90% of all cows wintered to have a calf
• Yearling heifers 10% dry
• R2 heifers 8% dry
• Cows 5% dry
• Weaning weight 220kg at 185 days
• Yearling heifer mating weight 320kg
• R2 heifer mating weight 410kg
• Mixed-age cow mating weight 500kg

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