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Farm Animal Practice
Understanding conception rates in dairy herds
  1. John Cook

    John Cook graduated from Liverpool in 1988, and worked in mixed practice in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria, with an increasing amount of his caseload being in expanding dairy herds. He joined Genus ABS in September 2007, and is currently responsible for the European technical support team. He holds the RCVS diploma in cattle health and production, and is also an RCVS specialist in this subject.

Abstract

CONCEPTION rate, which can be expressed as the number of services required to establish a viable pregnancy or as a percentage of a herd becoming pregnant relative to the total number of services administered, has historically been used as a key measurement in monitoring the reproductive success of many dairy herds. The desired outcome of pregnancy is the aggregated effect of many factors that can impact on an individual cow's ability to conceive, which, in turn, contributes to the overall performance of the herd. Nationally, there is little doubt that conception rates have fallen, particularly over the past 25 years, resulting in a conception rate in the national herd in the region of 35 per cent (ie, approximately three services per conception). This article discusses the factors underlying this trend and highlights how these might be managed to enable successful management of conception rates in the national herd in the future.

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