The usage of genomics together with three breeding indices to pick bulls has positioned a Welsh herd within the spring on the high of the rankings for fertility and protein manufacturing.
Rhys-Davies, who milks 100 Holstein Friesians in Flintshire below the Ffrwd prefix, initially milked Holsteins, however began rearing their calves in 2001.
Nonetheless, a examine journey to Eire as a part of a Farming Join administration change 4 years in the past satisfied him that strong breeding choice instruments may assist him breed better-performing black-and-white cows.
See additionally: How a herd of spring calves bought began utilizing genomics
“The one purpose we crossed was as a result of we wished a simple delivery,” explains Mr Davies.
Among the disadvantages of crossbreeding, he says, is that he could not do genetic testing for these animals, and the whites and whites appeared to outperform the crossbreeds.
Farm Info: Moore Farm, close to Holywell, Flintshire
- Milks 100 Holstein Friesian plus 80 Youngstock
- He sells milk to Arla
- Calves from March 1 to Could 10
- Promote breeding inventory
- Free of charge from March by way of November
- A median of seven,500 liters with 4.59% fats and three.65% protein
- A cow produces 618 kg of stable milk yearly
- He purchased 10 hectares (25 acres) from the county council; He nonetheless leases 30 hectares (73 acres) from council and 40 hectares (100 acres) for silage from 4 house owners.
Davies determined to make use of a mix of Holstein Friesian genes from world wide to hurry up genetic acquisition.
These included bulls with excessive breeding indices estimated from Eire, bulls that ranked effectively for breeding worth (New Zealand Breeding Index) and high bulls from the UK Spring Calving Index (SCI).
He makes use of AHDB’s Bull Finder to get a British evaluation of any non-British bulls, which he says turns every thing into “one language”.
Genetic cow calves are examined when they’re two weeks previous after which graded in accordance with protein share, fertility index, upkeep and mastitis.
Calves are matched with the most effective sires to steadiness the traits accordingly.
“Genomic testing of calves has grow to be as vital as weekly turf gauging. With out them, I do not know which calves to maintain. It is like going into the improper subject.
“If we get a cow that must be improved for cell depend, I’d use a excessive SCI Holstein bull.
“If we now have a calf with good well being traits, however they should enhance their components, I’d use a excessive share bull from Eire or New Zealand,” Davies says.
Surplus calves are bought at fortnight or on the bullfight for £250, £300 and £1000 respectively.
Sexual semen is used on calves and cows for the primary six weeks of breeding and standard semen is used on any of the most effective repeat cows after the primary service.
Semen from Aberdeen Angus is used for the rest of the animals, together with the poorest animals from the beginning of the mating.
Cows that fail to conceive inside the nine-week breeding interval are launched once more in November and bought to fall calves as soon as they’re confirmed to be younger.
“This makes £1,500 to £1,600 in earnings moderately than losing them as a culling,” Davies says.
Collars are used to detect temperatures, with 84.7% of cows giving delivery at 9 weeks.
Cows graze from March by way of November, with calves educated on electrical fencing as soon as they’re weaned from milk.
The milkers transfer to contemporary grazing fields after every milking, in 12-hour shifts. The grass is mowed beforehand, which Davies believes stimulates intakes, particularly in early lactation.
Alt and binary are actually within the high 1% when it comes to fats, protein and fertility, primarily based on the weighted age index from Mr Davies’ most up-to-date AHDB herd genetic report.
Sooner or later, he hopes to enhance cell counts, because the flock is at the moment ranked within the seventieth percentile for this trait.
He additionally needs to give attention to the EnviroCow trait, which can be launched in 2021. This contains cow age, milk manufacturing, fertility, and feed conversion.
Rhys-Davies was talking on the 2023 British Cattlemen’s Convention on January 25