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Mating management after adverse weather

In calf rates are at risk in herds that have lost excessive body condition score (BCS > 1.5 units) during and after the adverse weather.

Mating management effectively starts now

  1. Talk to your vet to update your mating preparation checklist
  2. Talk to your grazier about your heifers, and AB/bull supplier for heifer mating
  3. Talk to your advisors and the bank to ensure herd and heifer nutrition up to and during mating is as normal as possible

Affected herds are within 4 weeks of planned start of mating date (PSM).

Pre-mating heat detection is more important this year than ever to create more options for early intervention.

Tail paint should go onto cows 30 days before the PSM e.g. at start of October for herds due to start mating around 1st November.

Heifer mating may be starting a week or so earlier than the herd, only 3 weeks away.

Aims:

To get as many heifers and cows in calf as possible during mating:

Aim to achieve as close as possible to the 90% 3-week submission rate target, through:

  • maximising the number of cows cycling early, and
  • accurate heat detection prior to and during AB

Aim to achieve a good conception rate through:

  • good management of  the AB process, and during bull mating period

Summary of key actions

Continue to restore pasture growth, feed cover and cow feeding to normal.

Get help to create a check list of priorities to tick off about key areas of mating management.

Heifers

  • Check with grazier how the heifers are coping.
  • Get supplements to heifers as well to get nutrition back on track
  • Heifers need to get back onto a liveweight gain diet for mating

Cow Health

  • Talk to your vet and reassess calf, heifer and cow health risks to reproductive performance
  • Check for uterine infections, minerals, and reassess mastitis and lameness
  • Discuss non-cycling treatment options in advance with vet

Body condition score

  • Manage pasture and supplement feeding to stop further condition score loss, and get cows onto positive energy balance by start of mating
  • Consider once-a-day milking thinnest young animals, but maintain level of feeding
  • Be wary of pasture quality loss during mating

Pre-mating heats and non-cycling

  • Get tail paint on milking cows at least 4 weeks before PSM
  • Tail paint late calving cows another colour (e.g. orange) when they calve
  • Assess the level of cycling activity after each week of pre-mating heat detection
  • Top up tail paint every few days, and change colour of those cows cycled
  • Draft out non-cyclers for vet palpation and possible non-cycling treatment before PSM

Heat detection

  • Consider extra heat detection aids to improve heat detection efficiency
  • Dedicate the best person to read tail paint during AB

Artificial Breeding

  • Contact technician to reconfirm heifer and herd AB arrangements and start dates
  • Forewarn AB technician of any synchrony and non-cycling treatments planned

Bull Management

  • Review bull supply arrangements to confirm bull numbers, health and delivery dates
  • Reassess bull numbers given a likely lower in calf rate at end of AB mating
  • Consider extending length of AB mating to reduce risk of low bull power.