TotalDairy Seminar Farmer workshops and lectures to highlight practical ways to monitor herd fertility

Dairy producers will be able to get practical tips on how to monitor and improve fertility on their farms thanks to a series of lectures and dedicated farmer workshops at TotalDairy Seminar on 1-2 June.

Chris Hudson from Nottingham University will be sharing his thoughts on which key performance indicators (KPIs) farmers can look at to track fertility and placing realistic costs against poor fertility in different systems.

"The cost of fertility varies really widely between farms, as systems and milk contracts are now so diverse. I will look at different fertility costs across a range of different system examples," he says.

Traditionally, cost per additional day on calving index has been used to estimate fertility costs in the UK. However, Dr Hudson believes alternatives such as a cost per unit of 21-day pregnancy rate - which is commonly used in the US - or six week in-calf rate - which is commonly used in block calving herds in New Zealand - may also be useful.

Dr Hudson adds: "21-day pregnancy rate is also a really valuable headline monitor of fertility performance, provided records are of good quality. It's a more accurate indicator of what's going on now than many other measures. I'll be encouraging farmers to have a hierarchy of fertility KPIs - so what's important to monitor month by month or quarterly, and which indicators are important to look at if the headline measure deteriorates."

Dr Hudson will present two lectures focused on fertility and then use the smaller group workshops to go into specific details and discuss issues with farmers and advisors. For example, he will use a farmer workshop to draw on real farm examples and run through a basic spreadsheet tool that farmers can use to estimate fertility costs on their farm and assess potential room for investment. He will also discuss how KPIs can best be used.

Common bottlenecks to fertility will also be discussed, along with practical ways to address them. Dr Hudson believes that different changes are required to improve fertility in different units, but thinks there are some fertility "fixes" which many herds could benefit from. As part of a workshop on "Getting the best from routine visits", he'll also talk about deciding which cows to present to the vet and how to make the most of synchronisation programmes.

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