A cow in the milking shed where they are scanned

Get the Most Out of Your Scanning Data

Susan Geddes

Written by Susan Geddes

Based at Vetlife Oxford, Susan is
an experienced production animal
vet who is passionate about providing
better on-farm outcomes.

Reviewing reproductive data can assist in providing more targeted outcomes for you and your business.

It seems like only yesterday we started calving. Time has flown by, and now most dairy farms will be finished with mating and will have some scanning data available. To some, this information may not be used for much, but it may be worth considering utilising the information to review mating and how your results correlate with your farm goals and targets. This is a perfect time to engage with your vet and to discuss the mating and what went well, what could be done differently, and how the current and future results may impact on your enterprise.

The benefits of scanning data

A small amount of time spent reviewing how well mating has gone can identify some low-hanging fruit that can easily be tweaked the following year. If reviews are done early in the new year, most staff will still have a good memory of what happened during mating, including inclement weather events and both cycler and non-cycler programmes that could explain some odd results. It will also provide a lot of information to assist with the interpretation of the data.

This time of year is generally a bit quieter on farm, and therefore a good time to review how things have gone. A plan can be made, and ideally documented, after the discussion for the following season. This will allow for a good plan that can be used to guide you through the following season. Many of us fall back into the same pattern year after year, as this is our comfort zone. In essence, if we want to elicit change, we need to make some adjustments.

‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got,’ as the adage goes.

Planning is a crucial first step to alter processes and strategies. This is an area where your Vetlife vet can assist.

When to perform pregancy scans on dairy cows

Reproduction planning for dairy herds starts early in the new year with trying to achieve target dry-off dates which will assist with weight maintenance over winter, calving BCS and ultimately hitting pre-mating BCS. Having discussions early will allow for these important aspects of reproduction to be incorporated into your plan if they are some of your low-hanging fruit.

Reproduction is a complex area and can be impacted hugely by cow, people and climatic factors. Early planning allows a lot of time for farm staff training to be organised and/or booked, either internally within your organisation/business or externally with utilising the likes of your vet.

Review of specific areas of the mating/reproduction process can be invaluable for your business operation. Vetlife are lucky to have a number of In-Calf trained advisors and a lot of other vets who have an interest in reproduction and who can assist you and your team to ensure your farm goals/targets are a reality and not just a goal. Early planning allows for the following season to be mapped out in advance and allows for meaningful, planned alterations of ‘the normal plan’. The other bonus is that we are now starting to collect a lot more information from both within our individual areas and also regionally and practice-wide.

If benchmarking this type of information with colleagues is something you may find useful, or if you would be interested in doing a review of your farm`s mating this season, please feel free to contact your local Vetlife clinic.