Is Your Herd Size Being Maintained?

A Note From Lydia Moeller and the Technical Service Department

Pregnancy creation is the backbone of a dairy. Without a set goal of pregnancies created each week/month, cashflow will fluctuate and herd size will be variable or decrease. What is the appropriate amount of pregnancies needed to maintain your herd size and cash flow? If you don’t feel confident in answering this, ABS Global has created a tool to help you determine the amount of pregnancies needed to maintain herd size, otherwise known as Pregnancy Hardcount. To use this tool go to http://www.absglobal.com/services-1/technical-services/interactive-calculators/ (2nd tool on the page). Enter the corresponding data from your dairy and find your needed weekly and monthly pregnancies as shown below.

Now that you’ve determined your hardcount, let’s find out if you’ve been meeting your needs this past year (example using DairyComp 305 – DC305). In the DC305 command line, type graph %108.dcc.7 for lact>=0 %108.dcc.7<44. This will bring up a graph similar to the one below.

This example shows a dairy needing ~57 total pregnancies each week. There are a few weeks (35-38 weeks carried calf) where it was below the hardcount so cash flow may be a bit depressed when it is time for these animals to calve in, but all in all they have a pregnancy surplus. Instead of maintaining herd size they will be able to expand, cull voluntarily or be more critical of their bull selection. What if the dairy wasn’t meeting its hardcount? Have a meeting with your veterinarian, nutritionist and ABS representative to find bottlenecks such as diseases, low quality feed or poor cow comfort. You can also look for opportunities to improve your reproduction, such as utilizing RMS to enhance heat detection or implement and manage a synchronization program.

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