6 Tips for Success
6 Tips For Success: Setting up for Success
It’s autumn and the time is right to turn our thoughts to next season; how can we get our cows and heifers through their next calving in the best possible shape? Achieving targets at calving for the herd and farm involves making a solid plan for winter using: herd body condition score (BCS), expected calving date, and feed budgeting information. It appears more and more farmers are recording vital information to help them do this.
- More Scores
The number of body condition scores feeding into the MINDA® database has gone up each year as the understanding of the importance of BCS for fertility is embraced by the industry.
2016: 782,506 scores
2015: 410,939 scores
2014: 207,586 scores
2013: 110,000 scores
- Armed with Information
Aged pregnancy tests give us conception rates, conception dates and more accurate expected calving dates (ECD). ECD should be used in hand with recent BCS results to decide individual dry off dates to give your girls enough time to reach calving BCS targets (5.0 for 4+yos and 5.5 for 2 and 3yos). More pregnancy tests come into MINDA each year as farmers seek better information; 43% of herds can now get detailed MINDA and Fertility Focus Reports!
- Good things take time
DairyNZ has a guide table that can give you an idea of how many kg of dry matter a cow would need to eat to put on 1 BCS. Knowing this information with how much feed is available for the cow will determine possible dry off dates. For more information head to the Body Condition Scoring Made Easy booklet.
- Dry for how long?
It’s recommended that cows have least 6 (preferably 8) weeks dry prior to calving. They need this time for the udder tissue to be repaired and replaced - they deserve a break. And remember that 95% of calves can be expected to arrive within +/- 9 days of heir due date. Read more about drying off.
- Dry off right
Depending on cow condition, age, feed supplies, and somatic cell count, dry off may just be around the corner for some cows. Start making your list now if you haven’t already. To find out more about BCS strategies that might be useful.
- Reports for culling and dry off
MINDA customers can log into MINDA Live at www.minda.co.nz to access the Culling Guide from the End of Season section of the Reports tab. Populate the Culling Guide with your herd and apply your own criteria to easily identify animals for culling or dry off.
Remember that 95% of calves can be expected to arrive within ± 9 days of their expected due date, it’s just nature at play!
Want more accurate expected calving dates for next season? If you haven't pregnancy tested already, see if you can squeeze in an aged pregnancy test by checking the When to Scan calculator at 6weeks.co.nz that can give you the information you need to plan accurately for calving.
For help with feed budgeting and planning contact your rural advisor.
Best wishes from the 6 weeks team!
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