“AI using high Breeding Worth (BW) bulls is a very cost effective way to continuously improve the profitability of your herd and to maximise cow capital value,” says Jeremy.
The use of service bulls - part or whole season - complicates grazing management, and brings hidden costs such as feed and damage to infrastructure. Bulls also introduce risks relating to staff safety and animal health.
Farmers deciding to opt out of AI this year will need to consider their strategy for herd replacements in the 2017/18 season. Calves reared from service bulls are highly likely to be genetically inferior, and this will have a detrimental impact on farm profitability.
It is estimated that bringing just one year of naturally mated replacement heifers into your herd will cost over $30,000 in lost profitability over a 10-year period. The scale of this loss can be reduced by purchasing surplus heifers from other farmers, but this is likely to be an expensive option.
“Farmers who need to purchase replacement heifers will be vulnerable to market supply and demand, and could end up paying top dollar for below average genetic merit animals,” says Jeremy.
Farmers looking to save cash or generate additional revenue next season could consider other AI options being offered by breeding companies. This could include more targeted allocation of elite dairy sires to their highest BW cows, while utilizing cheaper beef or short gestation length sires over low BW/PW cows.
|6 weeks of AI¹, 6 weeks of service bulls²||12 weeks of service bulls²|
|Cost at mating||$15,855||$16,480|
|Lost profitability (10 year forercast)³||Not applicable||˜$30,000|
- 412 cow herd, 1.3 inseminations per cow, at a straw price of $18
- Lease cost of $600 per bull. Bulls run at a rate of 1 bull per 30 non-pregnant cows, with a 1 resting, 1 working policy (as per DairyNZ Incalf recommendations).
- Actual amount lost is dependent on a farmer’s decisions around sourcing heifer replacements and could range from $20,000 to over $50,000.
Breeding Worth (BW) ranks animals on their ability to breed profitable replacements.
Production Worth (PW) ranks female animals for their lifetime performance to aid culling decisions.