As the breeding season approaches on farms, it is important that you begin preparations and ensure that everything is ready for the planned start of mating.

The challenging weather conditions currently facing farmers mean that cows are not in as good of condition as farmers would have liked.

Farmers should aim to get as many cows in calf in the first six weeks of the breeding season.


Prior to the start of breeding, any cow that had issues around calving or has failed to cycle should be check by a vet.

Some farms now have heat detection technology to identify cycling cows, while others still have to use heat detection aids such as tail paint.

Whatever method you use, it is important that you try and identify as many cows as possible that are not cycling before breeding starts.

Cows that are not cycling before breeding begins, means that it will be at least three weeks before they are detected, and could be four weeks before they are actually served.

The body condition score (BCS) of your herd should also be assessed ahead of breeding.

It will be challenging to increase condition, but it is vital that condition does not slip further.


On farms where heat detection technology is not in place, the use of tail paint and other similar heat detection aids are likely to be used.

Ahead of the breeding season, you should stock up on all the supplies you require.

When purchasing paints, it is always a good idea to buy a number of different colours, as this makes it easier to monitor cows.

E.g., to monitor pre-breeding heats, a blue paint can be used – this should be put on cows roughly three weeks before breeding starts.

This can then be changed to red once the blue paint has been removed, which shows they have cycled prior to breeding starting.

Any cow that has the blue colour paint on them when breeding starts should be check as they have not cycled prior to breeding starting.

Every three weeks, a different colour should be used, as this makes it easier to identify cows that are still not in calf, have repeated and also makes it easier to identify the cows that are in calf.


Before breeding begins, it is important that all booster vaccinations are carried out such as leptospirosis (lepto), infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) and bovine viral diarrhora (BVD).

They should be administered in line with the manufactures or your vet recommendations.

The stress of handling animals and a potential inflammatory response to the vaccine may delay cows cycling in the week following vaccination.

If a stock bull is being used or has been purchased it is vital that he is on the same programme as the cows.

A newly purchased stock bull should be given enough time between purchase and use for vaccination to have an effected.