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Dairy Farmer Details Herd Fertility Journey From Despair To Delight

JamesGarry

When dairy farmer James Garry experienced issues with herd fertility and health, poor milking and a traumatic calving season, he made it is his mission to find and resolve the underlying cause. What ensued was a deep dive into the area of trace element nutrition, the role of molybdenum on his herd's performance, and the discovery of unique trace element bolus which he credits with saving his business.

James Garry, Co. Clare, Ireland

My farm is located in Ballynacally, 17km west of Ennis, overlooking the Shannon Estuary. I inherited the farm from my father who bought it in 1951 and a further block was purchased in 1976. The grazing block consists of 24.54 hectares of which 4.26 are leased.

Three cuts of silage are taken from an outside block and surplus bales cut on the grazing block. Grass measuring has been carried out weekly on the farm since 1998.

69 cows were milked in 2020. In addition, there were 12 maiden heifers and 15 heifer calves. ST Rate 3.47. The 15 heifer calves were sent for contract rearing in October 2020. The plan is to replace these with cows. The milk is supplied to Kerry Agri. 458kg of milk solids per cow were supplied in 2019, with a SCC of 56,000.

Looking back in hindsight, a problem existed for many years on the farm but did not really manifest itself until 2010, when I felt my cows were not milking to their full potential. Fertility was not a huge issue at the time as I was trying to tighten the calving spread. Any cows that repeated after the 20th of July were culled. As the system intensified, it was then the fertility problem came into focus. As well as a sudden and severe milk drop, multiple health problems arose such as coughing, snotty noses, high temperatures, loss of body condition, pica, lameness and cows were very lethargic.

2014 KPIs

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Days since mating (MSD) 193 days (cows) 193 days (heifers) Your herd National Average Btm. 5% Top 5%
Week Pregnancy Rate
Cows/ heifers confirmed in calf within 6 weeks of MSD (16 cows/ 7 heifers) as a proportion of cows/ heifers submitted (52 cows/ 14 heifers)
Cows 31% 65% 34% 86%
Heifers 50% 84% 53% 99%
Overall Pregnancy Rate
Cows/ heifers confirmed in calf within 6 weeks of MSD (16 cows/ 7 heifers) as a proportion of cows/ heifers submitted (52 cows/ 14 heifers)
Cows 52% 90% 78% 99%
Heifers 50% 96% 85% 99%
Note: Cows and Heifers are assumed in-calf unless they are recorded not in calf

Repeat Intervals

Short
less than 18 days
Normal
Between 18 and 24 days
Prolonged
Greater than 24 days
Cows (16) 14% (73) 62% (29) 25%
Heifers (0) 0% (5) 38% (8) 62%

The calving seasons did not pass without problems either. Slow calvings led to dead calves and retained placentas. Calves did not thrive. The cows were getting infections such as mastitis, LDA's, RDA's which resulted in the death of some cows. Some cows had blood in their beastings; something which I had not seen occur in cows since I was a child. 

I contacted vets and nutritionists, attended talks and 'Open Days', discussed the problem with key speakers at such events. There were numerous blood tests, lung washes, nasal swabs etc. done over the years. Vets felt there was an underlying factor which was the main problem.

In September 2016, grass samples were taken from every paddock prior to cows grazing them. The samples were frozen and when the grazing round was completed, the samples were mixed and a sample sent to a lab for a complete mineral analysis. The results showed a very high level of molybdenum in the grass. As a result, liver biopsies were done on eight cows in November 2016. Resulting from these it was recommended to me that I administer CoseIcure boluses to the cows every 6 months. In March 2017, I administered 2 CoseIcure boluses per cow to the cows and maiden heifers.

I had never heard of CoseIcure boluses before or the effects they could have on a herd. Their unique soluble glass bolus formulation means that the CoseIcure bolus dissolves at a controlled and constant rate, providing the same levels of ionic copper, ionic cobalt, selenium and iodine every day for 6 months. These minerals are vital for the cows during the breeding and peak milking season.

A high molybdenum level causes some of these minerals to be locked up in the cows' system. In my case, this then led to all the health problems, fertility problems, the huge sudden milk drop, the knock-on financial losses incurred, the huge veterinary and A.I. fees and the low income from milk and calf sales.

CoseIcure's unique ionic copper is available at the same pH as the rumen and prevents this 'copper lock' from occurring; making them a great choice in high molybdenum areas.

In 2020 71 calves were born, with only one born dead, one retained placenta and no cow with blood in their beestings. Cows and heifers calved unassisted and calves were up and sucking in minutes. A pre-service scan was done; two cows needed treatment. This was usually 12 to 15 cows in previous years. The 2020 breeding season was eleven weeks with an empty rate of 11.5%. In previous years I would have seen an empty rate of 35% to 48% after 17 weeks of breeding.

Bimeda CoseIcure boluses have been the game changer on my farm. Had it not been for them I would not be milking cows here today because where I was, was not mentally or financially sustainable in the long term.

2020 KPIs

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Days since mating (MSD) 236 days (cows) 236 days (heifers) Your herd National Average Btm. 5% Top 5%
Week Pregnancy Rate
Cows/ heifers confirmed in calf within 6 weeks of MSD (46 cows/ 8 heifers) as a proportion of cows/ heifers submitted (67 cows/ 11 heifers)
Cows 69% 71% 42% 91%
Heifers 73% 89% 62% 99%
Overall Pregnancy Rate
Cows/ heifers confirmed in calf within 6 weeks of MSD (59 cows/ 9 heifers) as a proportion of cows/ heifers submitted (67 cows/ 111 heifers)
Cows 88% 91% 80% 99%
Heifers 82% 97% 84% 99%
Note: Cows and Heifers are assumed in-calf unless they are recorded not in calf

Repeat Intervals

Short
less than 18 days
Normal
Between 18 and 24 days
Prolonged
Greater than 24 days
Cows (11) 28% (16) 40% (13) 33%
Heifers (1) 33% (1) 33% (1) 33%

Could the CoseIcure Cattle Bolus be right for your herd? Do you need help finding your nearest stockist?

Call Bimeda Ireland on Lo Call 1850 51 52 53

See also: cosecureboluses.com


Any form of trace element supplementation should only ever be administered after a need to do so has been diagnosed, and on the recommendation of a veterinarian, animal health advisor or nutritionist.

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