Synchronisied Breeding Programmes Require Labour

AUSTRALIA - Synchronised breeding programmes can help condense calving patterns in dairy herds, but they involve more farm labour at joining and calving.
calendar icon 25 August 2011
clock icon 2 minute read

The approach may involve fixed time AI programmes, where all or most of the herd is inseminated on the same day. It saves the time and hassle of heat detection in the first cycle, but requires extra labour at joining and calving.

Dairy Australia’s InCalf project leader, Dr Barry Zimmermann, said synchronised breeding programs resulted in concentrated calving patterns with large numbers of AI-bred calves born in the first two weeks.

“This concentrated calving can put pressure on farm staff with a surge of cows coming into the dairy and calves to be reared,” Dr Zimmermann said.

“In large herds there can be benefits of employing extra people over the calving period. Some large herds using synchronised breeding programmes also use contract calf rearers to take the pressure off the people working on the farm.”

Dr Zimmermann said preparation was a key to successful synchronisation programmes.

“Synchronisation involves handling large numbers of synchronised cows at joining and calving,” he said.

Achieving good results required forward planning, especially working out how to have the right people doing the right jobs at the right time, Dr Zimmermann said.

For example, large herds may need to be split into smaller groups for joining to minimise the time the cows spend in the yards rather than grazing.

“You may need someone on hand to move cattle to and from the yards. And you’ll need more inseminators than usual,” he said.

Attention to detail is important to ensure good records are kept at joining and calving.

“Make sure someone has the responsibility of recording which cows are joined to which bulls,” he said.

With a synchrony programme, cows that don’t get in calf to the first round of AI return to heat three weeks later. Be prepared for another round of AI or make sure you have enough bulls to deal with the expected number of returns.

InCalf is one of the many examples of the dairy service levy at work. For more information on this and other levy investments visit

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