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01/10/20, 22:00

Reducing the herd's open rate without extra handling

Christopher James

1200 cows, Pembroke

IDEXX’s Pregnancy Associated Glycoprotein test offers a solution to spring block calving herds, says Christopher James, who says he ‘dipped a toe in the water’ last year and introduced the milk test to his two 600-cow spring block calving herds based at Stackpole, Pembroke.

“The vet used to scan the entire herd on one day in August to pick up the empty cows and heifers at the 10-week stage,” he explains

Whereas now I have found the test’s biggest benefit is that we’re no longer having to handle the cattle. It’s one less job, it’s non-invasive, and it’s stress-free both for the herd and our team at a busy time of year, which also has the added workload of TB testing.

He also adds: “Furthermore, it has taken away that element of human error, whilst at the same time we feel we are not removing any significant work from the vet since we still see him every week during calving and pre-service, and he continues to check the rechecks.”

The Stackpole herd commences calving on 1 February over a strict 10-week period.

“AI commences 42 days post-calving and each cow is offered three-week cycle opportunities. We milk record on a quarterly basis, the second recording of the year being in June which allows us to PAG test a large number of cows at the 30 to 40 day stage.”

All cows and heifers are cross-checked with the milk recorder and marked on the computer system to be tested when the milk recorded sample reaches the lab for analysis. Christopher receives a text message from CIS when the results are ready for login. Turnaround time is within three days.

He says adding: "The herd’s empty rate is currently averaging 12%, a level we would like to reduce by reintroducing the PAG test this coming season but at a higher level."

"Our computer throws up cows and heifers due a preg check 30 days after service and we would like to sample those individuals using the CIS PregCheck self-sampling service with individual pots rather than wait until June for our CIS milk recording. This particular stage is a very important time of year for us when we put our whole focus on herd fertility.”

Christopher James
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