Testing shows which are cows better suited to Al or bull.
Achieving strong in-calf numbers through artificial insemination is not always guaranteed, however a trial project using Scandinavian reproduction advice might be the key to unlocking better results.
About 2500 cows, across 10 herds ranging from 110 to 500-head, have been involved in the project led by Viking Genetics in north-east Victoria.
Project co-ordinator and Vaxa Sverige reproduction consultant Magnus Johansson said the main goal of the trial was to use pre-AI testing to try to see if dairy farmers could get more cows in calf through AI as opposed to using a bull.
“We are trying to see if we can implement the Scandinavian routine and reproduction to traditional AI work in Australia,” Mr Johansson said.
The testing can identify problems in a cow that would normally be overseen, which would then help farmers decide whether or not to carry out AI.
“We know all or most cows can get in calf, but want to know if they are less likely to respond to AI,” he said.
“We want to pick up problem cows and do something about it before we start joining.
“They could be problem cows with physical problems, like she is lacking in ovaries, those are the cows we would categorise as not suitable for AI and needing a bull.”
Running Creek dairy farmer David Cooper was part of the project and said it produced good results, with 200 out of his herd of 260 being suitable for AI.
“All of their ovaries were checked and we found there was quite a few with cysts so we treated them,” Mr Cooper said.
“Then we found the ones that only (had) one ovary so they were a lot less likely to get in-calf as well.
“The cows that were not in calf after 10 weeks, if they were a problem cow with only one ovary, we would cull them.”
While the project was not yet complete when Dairy Direct spoke to Mr Cooper, he said Mr Johansson had found higher in-calf rates than the results achieved by Mr Cooper in previous years.
Mr Johansson said the technique was not designed to make farmers use AI more frequently; it was merely a way to help farmers make more informed decisions about using it.
“Each and every individual cow is assessed and then after that we categorise them based on their condition — if there is need for veterinarian treatment, that’s where we go next.
“We are following each and every individual throughout the AI season until they are pregnancy tested as in-calf or not in-calf,” Mr Johansson said.
“The goal is to provide the farmers with an extended knowledge of their herd and give an insight into the commonly occurring problems.
“We also want to pick up problem cows and do something about it before we start joining.”
Mr Johansson said the results could reveal “untapped potential” for farmers and save them considerable amounts of money.
“This is why we want to do this — the times being faced now in Australia are tough for farmers.
“In Scandinavia we have faced similar problems which have made farmers more aware of the money they can save on better fertility and reproduction units.”
The trial started in May and is set to end this month.