Effective Record Use

Fertility performance records have a number of distinct roles:

Business objectives Sharing information
Providing activity reminders Reviewing progress
Increasing herd profitability Presenting Fertility Records
Focusing improvement efforts Identifying the Key Data
Pinpointing specific problems Matching System to Resources
Evaluating cost implications

Business Objectives

Establishing and agreeing key business objectives - taking into account finances, lifestyle and personal needs - at the outset will determine the extent to which it is really worth maintaining and using fertility records.

Activity Reminders

The secret to ensuring timely and appropriate fertility improvement action in many herds is to make key tasks easier with devices like action lists and breeding charts.

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Herd Profitability

Putting the financial losses attributable to fertility problems into clear perspective and establishing the economic benefits of improvement ensure the right degree of commercial focus.

Focused Improvement

Breaking fertility performance down into its components allows improvement of effectiveness while minimising costs. To effectively address a long Calving Index, for example, it is essential to have information on Heat Detection Rate, Interval to First Service and Pregnancy Rate.

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Specific Problems

Analysing the fertility position thoroughly and objectively is the best way of identifying the likely causes of poor performance.

 

Cost Implications

The cost implications of a particular level of fertility performance will determine the extent to which it is worth investing time, effort and money in improvement.

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Information Sharing

Making the right fertility information available to the vet, farm staff and advisers separately and in team meetings will enable them to co-ordinate the improvement efforts to far greater effect

 

Progress Review

Regular progress reviews are essential to evaluate the actual results of improvement actions, rather than merely assuming they will be successful.

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Presenting Fertility Records

The best fertility records are developed and presented to:

  • Make recording easy - for the majority of people who find it unrewarding to do, and who appreciate clarity and simplicity
  • Avoid duplication - which means wasted time, a greater risk of errors and fewer opportunities for analysis and interpretation
  • Aid interpretation - through easy-to-understand visual charts, graphs and action lists that highlight the most important points
  • Be meaningful - involving only measures that are appropriate to the circumstances of the herd and the people involved
  • Be timely - rather than only historic, so improvement decisions can be made when they can most immediately influence performance
  • Ensure accessibility - allowing farm staff, the vet and other advisers to obtain the up-to-date information they require when they need it
  • Enable upgrading - particularly with computerised systems, so that future requirements can be catered for without excessive extra complication or cost.

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Identifying the Key Data

Only relatively few pieces of information need to be recorded to provide the basis for even the most sophisticated of fertility improvement programmes.

The most important data required for each animal are:

  • Identification
  • Birth date
  • Calving date
  • Recorded heat dates
  • Service dates
  • Pregnancy diagnosis
  • Drying-off date
  • Culling date and reason for culling


Also valuable are:

  • Calving problems - twins, retained foetal membrane, etc
  • Other health problems
  • Lameness
  • Body Condition Score

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Matching System to Resources

In deciding which records to keep, there are a number of issues which go beyond simple technical requirements.

Most notably:

  • Individual lifestyle, including interest and attitude to records and computer systems.
  • Family support available for recording, analysing and interpreting records.
  • Staff needs and capabilities, including the extent to which good information and records make the work more rewarding and interesting.
  • Access to off-farm support in the form of veterinary or bureau services, or the time and commitment of paid or unpaid advisers.
  • Other recording systems including milk, AI, pedigree and farm assurance records provided on their own or with the option of increasingly high levels of integration with farm performance records.
  • Other record-keeping needs and resources particularly biosecurity, animal movements, accounts and farm assurance.

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Further information about effective record keeping can be found in the DairyCo pd+ folder

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