Welcome to CARA Wales, agricultural and rural consultancy and advice. We offer an individual, unbiased and efficient service to help move your business forward.


The last couple of years we have seen semen companies trying to find different ways of maintaining

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and increase their market share in this declining market place. The latest method of enticing new customers is to offer aid with heat detection and ultimately getting the cow back in calf. Different services are being offered from daily on farm service to cow collars which record change in cow behaviour.

Let’s face it semen companies make their money from semen sales (with a very lucrative margin) and will offer all sorts of gimmicks to maintain and increase their market share. All you as a dairy farm need is a cow in calf calving every year.

There are all sorts of issues which affect fertility from nutrition, health, minerals etc however it is widely accepted that the major reason cows are not getting back in calf is poor observation in catching cows in heat. Over the last decade herd sizes have increased significantly and number of cows to a man ratio with it. This has resulted in less time being available to give to the routine of observing cows and heat detection. There is also the added problem of the modern dairy cow showing oestrus signs for a shorter period. Over 55% of cows remain on heat for less than 8 hours and 43 % show heat signs between midnight and 6 am.

Paying for a semen company to help with heat detection and ultimately get cows back in calf is money well spent so long as it works and the fertility does actually improve. Many farms have signed on to one of these new systems but are not monitoring whether the results are any better than before. If you pay a professional to do a job then the least you can expect is that the job will be done better than you can do it.

There are various fertility indices used by the industry to measure and monitor fertility:


Calving index <370 days

Interval to 1st service 60 days

Conception Rate 60%

Services to Conception 1.65

Heat Detection Rate 70%

Pregnancy Rate 36%

80 Day Submission Rate 85%

100 Day in Calf Rate 95%

200 Day Not In Calf Rate 6%

All these indices have their uses. The danger is that your semen salesman and/or advisor will select the index which shows him/her in best light and not what is really happening. For example take the first two on the list, these indices only evaluate cows that have been served and exclude cows with no service date.

Challenge your breeding advisor today to ensure that the service you pay for is value for money. If you do not have a strategy and your fertility is poor maybe you should think of employing an external service today. To review your dairy cow fertility strategies contact us at CARA.

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