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Improving fertility of your dairy herd

Cleaved embryos, live embryos (grades 1 to 3), and high quality embryos (grades 1 and 2) as percentage of ova-embryos recovered (without an asterisk) or as percentage of embryos recovered (with an asterisk), according to the incidence of disease.

Fertility is key to improve dairy farm profitability

Reducing systemic immune activation and inflammation during the transition to lactation will have a strong positive impact on fertility96 and will reduce involuntary culling58. On well managed farms with a low incidence of metabolic disease, fertility often becomes the most common cause for culling. Once the negative impact of metabolic diseases on fertility has been reduced, further improvement of dairy herd fertility can be reached by monitoring some key fertility parameters in a systematic way and translating this into specific actions.

More and more farmers are working with an individual optimal calving interval.

Another reason to focus efforts on improving fertility may be the calving interval. Traditionally farmers were aiming at a calving interval of about 365 days. Modern dairy cows usually have a good persistence of lactation and as a result, the daily yield at the end of lactation might be close to the LDY. In those cases, the impact on the LDY of keeping the calving interval short seems ignorable and may have a negative impact on farm economics and animal welfare20. This is only valid under one assumption: cows will not increase their BCS above 3.5 at the end of lactation. Particularly if the farm is not big enough to have a separate early lactation and late lactation group, cows with a moderate persistence of lactation will start the dry cow period with a BCS above 3.5. These cows are likely to be culled early during their next lactation as a result of metabolic disease. More and more farmers are therefore working with an individual optimal calving interval.

Download more research and documentation

You can access all of our documentation about Selko protocols, sustainable dairy farming and latest research insights about Dairy Cow health & fertility.

Learn more about managing the fertility of your herd

Poor fertility of a dairy herd can be a direct effect of hindgut acidosis6. It can also be related to an increased incidence of infections of the reproductive tract, to a poor transition to lactation34,35,37,38, or to other management factors.

For background information and practical advice on improving the fertility of your herd, please download our Technical brochure "Managing fertility on farm" and our protocol on dairy cow fertility.

Or visit our download center for more information:

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