3rd May 2022

By Joanne Hay, ECV Nutritionist

There are 80 days in every cow’s reproductive cycle which are crucial to the success and profitability of any suckler herd.  To maintain a tight 365-day calving interval the cow has just 80 days to recover from  calving and  conceive her next pregnancy.  Nutrition and herd management play key roles in achieving this through health and fertility, improving conception rates and tightening the calving period.

Managing Body Condition Score (BCS) pre-calving will help to reduce calving difficulties and prepare the cow for the coming breeding season.  By grouping cows based on BCS they can be fed accordingly.  Target BCS at calving is 2.5-3.0, this is optimum for restarting the oestrus cycle.  Any cows calving at a BCS less than 2.5 will need extra nutrition post-birth to help boost fertility.  Without this additional nutrition to increase their body condition post-calving, these cows will take longer to restart cycling and have an extended calving interval, reducing profitability.  Table 1 below shows the effect BCS has on calving interval.

Table 1 – Effect of  BCS on Calving Interval

Source: AHDB, Beef & Lamb

Maintaining BCS during the breeding season is vital to encourage oestrus activity while improving egg      viability and embryo survival. Nutrition from six weeks pre-calving through to six weeks post-calving is crucial for an easier calving and improved reproductive performance.  The energy requirements of a cow will double, once calved, as she is required to produce  increasing amounts of milk.   Ensuring the cow has adequate nutrition for both milk production and maintaining body condition will increase the chance of ovulation taking place. 

Vitamin and mineral supplementation are essential for optimising the health and fertility of the breeding suckler cow.  Calcium and Phosphorus are both vital to maximising fertility.  High levels of Selenium and Vitamin E are important for improving conception rates and embryo survival.  Copper is also key to    optimising suckler herd fertility.  This helps to aid ovulation and the expression of oestrus behaviour.  Magnesium should always be available to calved cows after turnout as they are at higher risk of               hypomagnesaemia (grass staggers) when switching to grazing lush grass. 

East Coast Viners Suckler Fertility Gold mineral is  specifically designed to meet the needs of breeding suckler cows.  It is formulated with all the essential minerals and vitamins to optimise herd health and  fertility whilst supporting the developing foetus. Using  a well-balanced supplement will help to reduce the risk of deficiencies and improve herd performance.  Available as a molassed bucket or a powdered       mineral, it will suit any suckler herd.  Our team are happy to discuss different options to help boost health and fertility in your suckler herd.

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