AgriSearch recently led on a large on farm research project into suckler synchronisation involving AFBI, Genus, Zoetis and AI Services. This research trialled four synchronisation methods, on cows and heifers on twelve suckler farms across Northern Ireland, with average conception rates for most treatments in the 62-68% range. As a result of the project AgriSearch have a range of resources available on its website (www.agrisearch.org) to help suckler farmers during the breeding season.
The resources cover topics such as management of suckler cows for improved fertility, selecting the right genetics, animal health and management of bull fertility in suckler beef herds, and include:
- A short leaflet on the main points you should consider when synchronising and using AI within your suckler herd
- A range of booklets from farm walks hosted by farmers involved in the synchronisation study
- A farmer booklet and videos from the “Breeding for performance” roadshow event, organised by AgriSearch, AFBI, CAFRE and the LMC last year.
According to AgriSearch Beef Advisory Committee Chairman Sam Chesney preparation is the key to success with suckler synchronisation. “Ensure that herd health is good, that vaccinations are up to date and that cows and heifers are in body condition score 2.5-3 at the start of the synchronisation program. Then talk to your vet and AI technician at an early stage to plan the best synchronisation programme”
“I was involved in the original trial and have continued to use synchronisation on my herd. By using the minimal handling synchronisation protocols, we have reduced stress for the animals. Some farmers can be put off by the cost of the programme (~£35-40 per animal synchronised), however, the cost of synchronisation and AI can easily be justified when you expect to get a superior calf of high genetic merit relative to the progeny of a stock bull. Purchasing a high genetic merit stock bull can be expensive and don’t forget the cost associated with keeping a stock bull. It is also important to consider the health and safety aspect to keeping bulls on farms - using AI should reduce the number of bulls needed.”
For the full suite of resources and publications issued by AgriSearch visit www.agrisearch.org/ publications.