Herd futures survey reveals top farmer priorities

Nearly 90% of UK dairy farmers agree or strongly agree that having the ability to use sexed semen to ensure a better than 95% likelihood of a heifer calf is a recreation changer, a survey of UK dairy farmers has discovered.

A complete of 247 farmers took half within the herd futures survey, compiled by genetics firm Cogent, dairy vitamin specialist Volac and MSD Animal Health, in March and April.

Farmers have been requested what was most necessary to make sure the longer term productiveness of their dairy replacements and the sustainability of their herds.

See additionally: How genomic testing of heifers can improve profitability

Discussing the outcomes, Cogent’s nationwide enterprise improvement supervisor, Ben Hogg, mentioned standard semen isn’t used now due to greater conception charges with sexed semen, client strain and schemes equivalent to Arla’s “Every calf has a price”.

“We’re wanting roughly at 3% standard semen gross sales by the tip of the yr. It’s an enormous swing from the place we have been 4 or 5 years in the past,” he mentioned.


However, when requested about genomic testing, 38% of respondents mentioned they didn’t perceive what it was or didn’t assume it was value doing. It was clear that a big proportion of farmers was failing to understand the advantages of genomic testing, and what it might do for his or her farms, mentioned Mr Hogg.

“We know heifer rearing is a large price on the farm, so being able to pick out or deselect heifers primarily based on their genomic info is essential, so we are able to be sure that we’re breeding from the appropriate animals, producing the very best heifers we are able to, and rising profitability, effectivity and sustainability on farm,” he added.


When requested how on-farm advisers might higher assist the drive for elevated youngstock productiveness, enhancing colostrum administration and vitamin was second solely to stopping illness.

“The solely means to make sure a heifer has ample physique measurement to calve down at 24 months – which quite a few research have proven is the age they’ve the very best likelihood of reaching their full lifetime potential – is to handle the vitamin, well being and atmosphere of the system,” mentioned Jessica Cooke, analysis and improvement supervisor at Volac.

To obtain this, farmers must set targets to make sure heifers are on proper progress curve to maximise the possibilities of rising into higher cows, mentioned Dr Cooke. Feed effectivity is at its highest within the milk-feeding interval, at 50% beneath ideally suited situations, she added.

Disease prevention

Ninety-nine % of farmers responding to the survey agreed that stopping illness in youngstock ensures productiveness in later life, and 73% rated vaccination as a essential facet of infectious scour and bovine respiratory illness (BRD).

“We know these two illnesses have an enormous impact on progress charges and later-life productiveness,” mentioned MSD Animal Health advertising and marketing supervisor Rob Simpson. “We additionally know that they will feed into one another – a calf that suffers from scour is extra prone to endure from BRD.

“However, there’s a hole in vaccination penetrations for each these illnesses – 17% [uptake] for scour and 36% for BRD, in accordance with AHDB knowledge. This exhibits there’s headroom for enhancing the quantity of illness prevention on farms.”

The farm vet was thought-about the important thing adviser for rising productiveness by 73% of farmers. This farmer-vet engagement presents a chance to enhance the quantity of illness prevention, utilizing key occasions of yr, equivalent to common herd well being planning dialogue and pre-disease season protocol opinions, mentioned Mr Simpson.

“Immunity-led prevention will assist defend the genetic funding farmers are making and maximise the advantage of good vitamin of their youngstock.”

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