The value of reproduction in dairy farming

In any business, it can be difficult knowing where to invest so that you will get the most bang for your buck.

Many economists would say the key is to not put all your eggs in one basket, invest in a portfolio of things to spread your risk. By investing in your reproductive performance you are doing exactly that.

Focusing resources on improving reproductive performance and lifting indicators, such as 6 week in-calf rate, not in-calf rate, conception rate and three week submission rate; can have valuable flow on effects that offset risks and bring value to your business across a wide variety of facets (economic, social, environmental and legal).

Economic benefit

  • Improved revenue - having cows in-calf to the first insemination gives you more days in milk
  • Improved asset worth - more cows in-calf gives you more choice when it comes to discretionary culling, allowing you to improve the BW and asset worth of your herd over time.
  • An additional revenue stream - more calves will also mean you can sell excess heifers or mate the bottom % of your herd to beef, giving you another revenue stream.

Social benefit

  • Improved health and safety - tighter calving patterns can allow farm workers more time to rest between calving and mating.
  • Positive reflection on animal welfare - healthy and capable animals are vital to good reproductive performance therefore a lift in your repro performance can be an indicator your herd’s wellbeing has improved also.

Environmental benefit

  • Reduced environmental impact - improved reproductive performance allows you to do more with less. Selecting for better performing cows enables you to have fewer cows which should reduce emissions of nitrogen and methane.

Legal benefit:

  • Compliance: Policies such as those in the Animal Welfare Act 1999 require owners of animals and persons in charge of animals to attend to physical, health and behavioural needs of animals. High level of compliance with such policies can be achieved as a result of working toward high reproductive performance.

What does investing in reproductive performance look like? High reproductive performance is achieved through effective management of the eight key management areas. Conduct an assessment of your herd to prioritise and find out areas for focusing resources to achieve high reproductive performance.