“The importance of fertility and the impact on dairy herd profitability is undeniable, well documented and generally appreciated.  That said; “What is your performance and where can your business cut ‘hidden losses’?

Nick Barradale – BVSc MRCVS, Molecare Veterinary Services

The drive to maximise output consistently with a set herd size and therefore cost of production is the backdrop to optimising fertility.  What actually is ‘fertility’ however and how can your choices/actions effect efficiency?

In a rough nutshell fertility is the result Conception Rate and Submission Rate.

Conception Rate – is affected by genetics primarily but infectious disease and energy balance must also be seriously considered.

Submission Rate – can be split into 1st service and return service submission but both are rooted in heat detection.  Heat detection rate is challenged by many factors; labour, time, environment, heat display consistency and inconsistent heat detection aids.

Whatever the dairy type overall submission rate, conception rate and then resulting Preg rate will be available to you.  Not having these figures or understanding them leaves you open as a business to huge recoverable losses.

Failure of efficiency in Preg rate is more often than not related to sub-optimal submission, with the national average in the UK currently running at under 30% this is no surprise.

Return on investment benefit to effective heat detection is now quicker than commonly perceived and as a practicing vet who see’s multiple various solutions I cannot urge farms enough to embrace technology in farming.”

Key Performance Indicators of a Breeding Program

HerdInsights is a year round reproductive and health management system which provides insight into the performance of your dairy herd. With a validated heat detection rate of 96% farmers using HerdInsights have achieved typical results of:Breeding Alert

· 100% 6 week submission Rate

· 20% Increase in 6 week in calf rate 
· 17 day reduction in calving interval


What does this mean financially?

According to Teagasc Ireland 1% increase in 6 Week In calf rate = €8.22 per cow per annum so on a 100 cow herd an increase in your 6 week in calf rate from 58% to 90% is worth €26,400 per year (Shallo et al 2014)

In addition a cow calving in May will generate €400 less profit than a cow calving in February due to higher feed costs and reduced yield. For every 100 cows compact calving this is worth on average €10,000 – €12,000 (€100 – €120 per cow/year)

Typical return on investment for the HerdInsights system is calculated at 16 months, and this does not include cost savings in areas such as:

  • Health Monitoring
  • Labour Savings
  • Time – with traditional heat detection methods it is recommended that observation should take place for 3 periods of 30 mins each day
  • Quality of Life
Find out more at www.herdinsights.com