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Should She Stay or Should She Go?

Calving pattern has one of the biggest influences on herd fertility; culling is a chance for you to influence next season’s calving to maximize your herd’s days in milk and reproductive performance.

Use your expected calvings report

But make sure it’s accurate. Without early-aged pregnancy testing the expected calvings report will only be based on last recorded matings which can make winter management decisions risky. Check when the best time to pregnancy test is with the clinic to maximise report accuracy.

ID passengers and problems

High cell count and low performing cows, do you need them? Efficient, problem-free cows are essential in achieving farm profitability

Use PW and LW

If you’ve herd tested through the season then your PW and LW will be accurate in helping you identify your profitable girls. It’s not as simple as milk solids alone; milk components and liveweight need to be accounted for too.

Cull late calvers 

Late calving cows have fewer days in milk, fewer AB replacements and generally poorer fertility in the following mating. They’d need to be a well above average cow to make up for it! Do you want or need to keep all of them?

Meet young stock targets 

Managing calving patterns starts at birth. Animals that hit liveweight targets are more likely to calve down early, produce more milk, and are more likely to remain early calving.

Monitor condition 

Meeting body condition score (BCS) targets at calving drives good reproduction. Cows need feed and time to meet these targets. Resist the temptation to milk them on and make sure they are dried off on good BCS and expected calving dates so they can meet the target.

Use the opportunity culling provides to influence your calving pattern next spring. Call the clinic and we’ll help you get the most from your reports with early-aged pregnancy testing. If you’re wanting to get on board with young stock monitoring we can help you monitor growth rates and assess the best and most cost effective options for your herd. You can also visit the 6 Week Challenge website at www.6weeks.co.nz to register for free, and read up on some of the latest heifer research on the “What’s New” page. Sign up and you will also receive a 6 Week Challenge resource pack in the mail to help you get started on the Challenge as well as access to a range of other online tools, information and stories from other farmers taking the Challenge.

Thanks to LIC for the use of this article.