Management of Dairy Cows from Calving until Mating Start Date

Posted in Category(ies):  Other NewsTipsDairy

Dr. Shane Leane PhD is part of the Progressive Genetics team, in the role of Dairy Specialist, Shane joined Progressive Genetics having completed a PhD in herd fertility, as well as having managed the Moorepark Curtins dairy herd. He has a wealth of knowledge in dairy systems, fertility management and crossbreeding.

Good fertility and compact calving are essential to maximise grass utilisation and farm profit. The target is to have 90% of the herd calved within 42 days from the planned start of calving and all cows calved by mating start date (MSD).

Figure 1: Seasonal management of fertility.


  • Cows should calve at a BCS of 3.00 or 3.25
  • Cows with low BCS at calving will have reduced milk yield and are more likely to have retained foetal membranes (RFM), a longer postpartum anoestrus period, increased likelihood of silent heats, and poor response to synchronization.
  • Once a day milking can be used to improve energy status in early lactation, allow cows to improve BCS, advance the interval to resumption of cyclicity and improve overall fertility performance.
  • Intervene promptly to treat cows with metabolic disorders such as milk fever, ketosis and displaced abomasum.
  • If foetal membranes are still present by 24 hours after calving, it is defined as a retained placenta. Retained placenta is a risk factor for developing metritis and endometritis.
  • Metritis is a systemic illness with a foul-smelling vaginal discharge occurring within 21 d after calving.
  • Starting 4 weeks before MSD, record vaginal discharge scores using the metricheck device on cows calved >14 days.
  • Cows calved >14 days and diagnosed with endometritis should be administered an intrauterine infusion of cephapirin (Metricure).
  • Be proactive in treating non-cycling cows before MSD.
  • Commence pre-breeding heat detection on April 1st. Implement a simple form of heat detection to identify non-cycling cows.
  • Use the Progesterone-Ovsynch synchronisation protocol (Figure 2) for cows calved >30 days that are still not cycling on April 22nd.

Figure 2. Progesterone-Ovsynch protocol for anoestrous cows.



Spring Grazing

Benefits of getting calved cows out to grass as early as possible

  • Increased animal performance - high quality diet with minimal supplements
  • Recondition swards for the year ahead – stimulate growth and improve quality
  • Maximise spring grass utilisation & minimise sward decay
  • Reduce workload on the farm
  • Research has shown each extra day at grass is worth €2.70/cow/day
  • Maintain target Average Farm Cover (AFC) each week during Spring
  • Allocate spring grass based on Spring Rotation Plan (SRP) (See Below)
  • Achieve target post-grazing height of 3.5cm
  • Maximise utilisation & recondition spring swards
  • Steadily increase total feed allowance from calving into breeding
  • Maximise milk solids production and fertility performance & minimise BCS loss


Posted on Friday, 8 February 2019  |  By Progressive Genetics
<< Back <<