Partnership improves management

Alan MaCombe and daughter, Maureen Keys are pictured with Richard Walker, Genus ABS.
Alan MaCombe and daughter, Maureen Keys are pictured with Richard Walker, Genus ABS.

Do you feel that there is scope on your farm to further improve fertility, cow type and overall management?

Does your busy work schedule mean that you are constantly planning to examine more closely how you might make improvements but there is never the opportune moment to work out a detailed plan?

This was the situation on Alan MacCombe’s farm at Claudy, Co.Londonderry.

Alan farms along with his daughter, Maureen Keys, and they milk 200 Holstein cows yielding 8600 litres at 3.27% protein and 4.08% fat. Cows are housed all year round on high input system.

Alan and Maureen had become frustrated with the performance of the dairy herd in recent years. Cows were not lasting as long as they would like and had also lost quality in udders and feet and legs. Alan likes to look at a good cow and he was disappointed with the heifer groups entering the herd. In addition, increasing herd numbers made it difficult to keep track of fertility and breeding events on a daily basis.

The ABS Partner Program is designed for select dairy farms motivated to take their herd performance to the next level in partnership with Genus. In return Genus ABS dedicates their genetic and reproductive expertise toward improving the profitability of the herd through a plan tailored to the specific goals of the Partner farm.

Determined to improve their position Alan and Maureen committed to Genus ABS and became one of the first partner farms in Northern Ireland. A key goal for the MacCombe farm was to introduce a long term breeding plan to improve the genetic potential of the herd. In the past sire selection depended on bull of the day offers, and resultant progeny have been below expectation as heifer groups lacked consistency. Taking this into consideration Genus introduced the GMS mating program to improve mating decisions and ensure appropriate sire selection to meet breeding goals.

Richard Walker, Breeding Adviser, Genus ABS states, “GMS 2.0 provides unparalleled inbreeding protection ensuring the maximum return on genetic investment. Using a range of bulls allows for the maximum genetic gain on each individual mating. The aim on the MacCombe farm is to produce compact, healthier cows with improved longevity. Priority is given to positive health traits with good legs and feet scores. Sexed semen is being used to increase heifer numbers. Current sires in use include high PLI Holstein bulls Laurelhill Classic, Ballycairn Darius, Apina Nadal, ABS Theory, Ardnasalem Pride and current UK no1 Friesian Catlane Chad. Proven Aberdeen Angus is used on the lower end of the herd.”

Maureen Keys commented: “It is great to have support from an enthusiastic breeding advisor. Together we take a team approach to meeting herd goals. We are using the Genus data management program, to monitor herd performance and become proactive instead of reactive to challenges in the herd. For example today we only have six cows in the herd that have not been AI’d that are eligible for breeding. This gives us confidence that we are improving efficiencies and maximising the potential of the cows and the business as a whole. This is only made possible by keeping accurate information and more critically, using the reports and financial analysis from Genus to evaluate performance and make timely management decisions..”

Alan MacCombe added: “Working with Genus ABS and Richard is a true partnership. He keeps us focused on herd management and performance. We now have a complete structure to herd management and our breeding program which makes looking to the future more exciting!”

If you would like to find out more about the ABS Partner program, contact your local Genus ABS breeding adviser today or Genus Office on 028 38 334426.