Following the recent release of the HerdPlus Dairy Calving reports, ICBF can report a steady trend in the fertility performance of the national dairy herd. The average calving interval has remained at 388 days (See graph below). The overall trend here remains largely positive when we look at this figure over the last 10 years, an average improvement of 5 days across the national herd.
Another important fertility parameter six-week calving rate continues to show steady improvement over the last 10 years. Although it has decreased from 67% to 66% in 2022, the figure has improved by 7% over the past 10 years. In addition, during the 2022 period there was 0.94 calves/cow/year, this is up from 0.93 in 2021. The National Statistics are based on data from 14,326 herds.
The data shows, we are still a considerable way off the targets identified by Teagasc as being required to ensure a profitable dairy industry.
The average calving interval is 388 days compared to an industry target of 365 days. Similarly, the six-week calving rate is at 66% compared to an industry target of 90%. Therefore, it’s important that we continue to focus on high EBI bulls with a high fertility sub-index in order to achieve these targets.
Table 1 shows a summary of the fertility performance for the average, the top 10% and bottom 10% of herds based on data from the latest HerdPlus Dairy Calving reports.
The trends indicate large variation between herds that are achieving exceptional fertility performance (Top 10%) for each of the Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), to those that are achieving below average performance (Bottom 10%). A full listing of all the dairy statistics can be found by clicking here.
One trait of particular note is the percentage of heifers calved between 22 and 26 months of age. Average performance for this KPI is at 75%, with a number of herds achieving 100% (top 10%), but a similar number achieving only 18% (bottom 10%).
A key part in achieving two-year calving is having heifers at the correct target weight for breeding (See Table 2). ICBF strongly encourage farmers to weigh their replacement heifers. Heifers that are below target can be identified and corrective action taken. Underweight replacements should be grouped together and fed 1-2kg meal so they achieve the target breeding weight.