AgriSearch has a range of resources on its website to help suckler farmers during the breeding season.
AgriSearch led a large on-farm research project into suckler synchronisation involving AFBI, Genus, Zoetis and AI Services. This trialled four synchronisation methods on cows and heifers on 12 suckler farms across Northern Ireland with average conception rates for most treatments in the 62-68 per cent range.
AgriSearch Beef Advisory Committee Chairman Sam Chesney said: “Preparation is the key to success with suckler synchronisation. Ensure that herd health is good and that vaccinations are up to date and that cows and heifers are in body condition score 2.5-3 at the start of the synchronisation programme is important. Then talk to your vet and AI technician at an early stage to plan the best synchronisation programme.
“I was involved in the original trial and have continued to use synchronisation on my herd. By using the minimal handling synchronisation protocols we have reduced stress for the animals. Some farmers can be put off by the cost of the programme (approximately
£35-40 per animal synchronised in total). However, the cost of synchronisation and AI can easily be justified when you expect to get a superior calf of high genetic merit relative to a progeny of a stock bull.
“Purchasing a high genetic merit stock bull can be expensive and don’t forget the cost associated with keeping a stock bull. Also remember the health and safety aspect to keeping bulls on farms – using
AI should reduce the number of
AgriSearch General Manager Jason Rankin said: “There are a range of resources on the AgriSearch website (www.agrisearch.org) which will be of use to suckler farmers during the breeding season. These include a short leaflet on the main points you should consider when synchronising and using AI within your suckler herd. There are also a range of booklets from farm walks hosted by farmers involved in the synchronisation study.
“Finally, there is the booklet and videos from the ‘Breeding for performance’ roadshow organised by AgriSearch, AFBI, CAFRE and the LMC last year. The topics featured include management of suckler cows for improved fertility, selecting the right genetics, animal health and management of bull fertility in suckler beef herds.”