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08/10/20, 22:00

The Vet only needs to check 10-12 cows now

John Holdcroft

200 cows, Burton upon Trent

John Holdcroft is a dairy farmer in a family partnership based in Burton upon Trent. He farms a 200-cow pedigree Holstein herd currently averaging 11,500 litres and calving all year round. He has adopted a relatively high input, high output strategy in order to fulfill his objective - to maximise its performance and in turn, achieve profit.

He used to present to the Vet around 25 cows a month, those he was a bit suspicious about not being in calf. However he was already milk recording, so three years ago he started to use the PAG milk pregnancy test, and since then he has found it is proving to be over 95% accurate. John rates it to be cost-effective.

"Maintaining herd fertility is important. We’re aware that every open day costs money, however having said that we don’t like to push our cows too hard. We’ve found that introducing the PAG milk test is one of those tools we can use to our advantage; it brings peace of mind and it’s helping to keep us on top of the job".

John uses the milk test over the entire herd at 40 days after service or at the nearest milk recording. It’s straightforward and non-invasive. Around three days later, he receives a text message from NMR when the results are ready for login. They are returned as positive, negative, or recheck.

Those results help him to identify cows that would have escaped his attention. Nowadays he is presenting to the Vet each month just 10 to 12 animals, those that have PAG tested either negative or recheck. He investigates if there is an issue and if so, what’s wrong so he is able to treat accordingly and then quickly rebreed.

PAG also complements John's heat detection system – he checks the pedometers twice a day, and if they pick up any animal that’s not showing by 100 days post-calving, then he presents her to the vet too. Fertility will remain a challenge in a high input high output herd, however, he is relatively relaxed towards tightening up the calving index which stands at 410 days. He’d be satisfied if PAG continues to help the trend and reduce to a targeted 400 days.

"Apart from helping us to increase performance efficiency, the milk test is also improving herd welfare and saving time and labour, particularly when there is less help on the unit. It has significantly reduced the number of cows our team used to draft out for the Vet and the uncertainty of what time of day he would arrive".

John Holdcroft
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