The calving season continues on most dairy farms, but it is important to start preparing for the breeding season.

Depending on when you planned for mating to begin, you will be between four to six weeks away from breeding.

Something that needs to be checked before breeding commences, is ensuring that all cow are cycling.

Breeding season

Records from the calving season should be used to identify cows that need to be checked by the vet prior to breeding starting.

Some of these cows will be fine and require no help or intervention, others will require some and others may need to be washed out before breeding begins.

It’s important that these cows are checked and that any potential issues are dealt with before breeding begins.

This process should be repeated in April once all cows have calved on the farm and cows have been monitored for heats.

Failing to deal with these cows before breeding begins will result in them either not going in calf, or them going in calf later in the season.

Heat detection

Some cows will be calved down without issue and still fail to cycle without some aid. They will only be detected if you are monitoring heats prior to breeding.

Pre-breeding heat detection should take place at least three weeks prior to the planned start of mating.

This will give sufficient time to pick up cows that are not cycling and have them cycling once breeding begins.

Failing to have cows cycling before breeding season begins means that you will be at least three weeks in before you can identify them as not cycling.

Again, this will either result in them failing to go in-calf or become later calving cows.

Ideally, all cows should have cycled before breeding starts, but this is not always possible.

Instead, the aim should be to ensure that as many cows as possible are cycling before breeding begins, and the remaining animals have been treated and should cycle soon.