Cow longevity and fertility

Making the conditions right for fertile cows. If you want to extend the productive lifetime of a cow then it stands to reason that fertility is extremely important. 

Infertility is one of the main reasons for involuntary culling and if we’re thinking along the lines of productivity, then the ideal calving interval is 12 to 13 months. In some farms, the interval is more like 16-17 months and those extra months become quite costly for the farmer.

It all means that ensuring that your cow remains fertile has to be at the top of your agenda as a farmer. And if you do the right things then the opportunity to extend the cow’s productive life goes up.

So, what are the right things to do?

  1. Make sure cows get enough food and the right food after calving.
  2. Get better at detecting when cows are in heat and breed at each heat.
  3. Keep your cows healthy and manage them well.  

Our previous article on the transition period for cows mentions the abrupt metabolic changes that occur to the cow after calving. Ensuring that the cow is fit and in good condition at calving, fed well and given enough comfort and time to return to full health after calving, will also help her future fertility and speed up the time between calving.

Knowing when your cow is in heat is not always easy to detect. “There has been a negative trend over the years when it comes to fertility and one of the problems is that heat detection has become more difficult in high yielding cows, “ says Charlotte Hallén Sandgren, Dairy Development Director at DeLaval.

“It’s worth pointing out that the number of man-hours spent on each cow are decreasing which makes it more difficult to monitor the herd and know which cows need attention before its too late.”

Keeping your cows healthy means to detect potential diseases in time and treat the cow accordingly. Well-monitored cows are often well-managed cows. Make sure to set up a good breeding policy, good nutrition and good ability to detect potential disease.  

To understand more about cow longevity read our previous articles in the series about Vega the super cow, cow longevity starts at birth and the transition periods and cow longevity.