As we explained in our previous paper, there is a unique dataset of dairy farms in Europe that have joined the farm comparison project of UNIFORM-Agri. With this dataset we can look at how these farm’s change over a period. We respect and maintain their privacy, so we only show the trend of the group of farms per country. Most of the data is yearly rolling averages and measured in January.
We have already shown the differences in herd size and sustainability. In this paper we will talk about the reproductive performance in farms from the same four countries: The Netherlands (1420 farms), Belgium (299 farms), Germany (170 farms) and UK (480 farms). All of them use the UNIFORM Herd management software or a branded version of it.
Speaking about reproductive performance there are a few Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) to be monitored. The most important ones are included in our dataset. These are:
– Average number of days in milk to 1st service (Avg DIM to 1st service): for all cows in the herd, the average number of days after calving that cows are being inseminated/served.
– Insemination rate (IR): from all eligible cows, how many of them have been inseminated/served.
– Conception rate (CR): from all the inseminated cows, how many of the inseminations are successful.
– 21 days Pregnancy rate (PR): a mix of the 2 previous KPIS. It is the result of IR * CR. Which means, from all eligible cows, how many are pregnant.
– Predicted Calving Interval: the estimation of how many days will be between the last calving and the next one. This KPI considers pregnant cows, inseminated without a diagnosis and open cows for the prediction.
– Average age to 1st calving: a very important KPI for heifers. It is the average amount of time that it takes a heifer to get to their first calving and start being a productive animal in the herd.
Depending on herd management, we can consider a different value as good (or as a goal) for some of these KPIs. For example, for the Avg. DIM to 1st service or for the predicted calving interval.
For high producing farms, the goal would be to have a slightly longer calving interval and more days to 1st service than what is consider ideal in their area/country. Otherwise, cows would be dried off when they are still producing a lot of milk, so it is better to extend these periods in time.
For farms with lower production, on the other hand it would be better if these two KPIs are lower. Less days for calving interval and less Days in Milk (DIM) at 1st service. Cows will be dried off with low productions and interval between peaks of lactations will be shorter.