Fertility is one of the major factors affecting the efficiency of any dairy herd. It can account for one of the major costs of production and also represents an area where significant improvements can be made.
Poor dairy herd fertility is recognised as having many consequences, both direct and indirect. Most importantly:
- Loss of milk production through too many dry days or peak yield traded for later lactation yield.
- Disruption to the calving season and milk production pattern.
- Loss of mature animal milk yields through early culling.
- Extra veterinary costs.
- Reduced calf sales.
- Additional AI costs.
- Enforced culling resulting in more replacements being reared or bought.
- Loss of valuable genetics.
- Linkage with other problems such as nutritional imbalances and production shortfalls.
While the first step in reducing unnecessary fertility losses is detailed assessment of individual herd fertility performance, it is important to appreciate that fertility is best appraised as part of a whole farm review.