Ballydesmond, Co Cork, Ireland. Mar 22 2021
Block breeding is widely adopted in grass feeding regions including Ireland, UK, and New Zealand and is all about bringing efficiency of work practices to the farmyard. Block breeding focuses on consolidating the calving season into a period of as close as possible to 6 weeks. In the case of spring calving herds, this typically falls between January to March. The best farms in Ireland achieve an average calving interval of 364 days according to the recently published figures from ICBF. This means the farmer is maximizing the production of milk and calves from their herd with each cow producing a calf and maximising milking production pretty much on a cycle of exactly every 12 months.
Problems occur for farmers in achieving this 12 month cycle if an effective heat detection practice is not implemented. Every time there is a missed heat, the target of 365 days is impacted. According to the recently published ICBF data, the average calving interval in Ireland is 387 days, which means that the national herd on average misses one heat (21 days), and for the farmers not performing well the interval is up to 424 days. Closing this gap by implementing effective heat detection practices, together with correct timing of AI and ensuring best practice in nutrition management, represents a significant increased profit opportunity for the Irish Farmer. For most Irish farmers, the calving season is about to finish as we approach the end of March but unfortunately this is only 5% of the farmers. For the other 95% of the farmers, the calving will continue, on into the summer for some. These farmers are losing significant revenue opportunity on lost milk production and reduced calf value.
Agrify Solutions Ltd was formed in 2018, based in Ballydesmond Co Cork. Co-founder Liam O’Keeffe as a dairy farmer and AI tech realised that farmers who used tail paint effectively were the ones who were achieving the best calving intervals. Liam was acutely aware also of the work that goes into good tail painting practice. This awareness led to the invention of a tool kit, known as the Tailpainter. The Tailpainter was designed to help farmers implement best practice in heat detection. The company has enjoyed enormous success over the last 2 years, with the Tailpainter now being adopted throughout New Zealand, and with trials ongoing in France, Brazil, Australia and the Nordics. The good news for the 95% of Irish farmers who struggle with implementing effective heat detection is that with the use of the Tailpainter and by following the Tailpainter breeding protocol, farmers can now improve their 6 week calving rate with less effort than ever before. By using the Tailpainter the farmer can more easily benefit from the use of top genetics; a farmer can now achieve a genetic gain in his herd without any extra labour input. With reduced or eliminated stock bulls and improved dairy genetics and increased beef calf value a farmer can see a real improvement in his profit while also dramatically increasing the value of his stock.
“We are delighted with the feedback from our existing customers who are realizing real benefits including ease & speed of tail paint application, the difference is the farmer now spends his time observing cows and not on strenuous tail painting resulting in improved heat detection and more compact calving” says Liam O’Keeffe. “The real trick here is to ensure that during the breeding season that the farmer quickly checks the paint quality before the cow leaves the parlour and if in doubt top up the paint - this routine removes any guessing from heat detection; the paint has to be in good condition at all times during the breeding season and therefore also allows for detection for so called non-cyclers i.e. any cows that are not ovulating. Due to the cost of herd replacements which can on average at €2,200 per cow, a farmer’s ability to eliminate inaccurate heat detections and a knowledge of non-cyclers are two areas where farmers can really gain financially. We have farmers milking up to 1000 cows realising the value of the Tailpainter down to herd sizes of 50 cows. Farmers up to now were aware of the labour intensive job and what was very often a hazardous job associated with tail painting - the arrival of the Tailpainter changes all of this making it very feasibility and safe to paint as often as is required”.
Agrify Solutions Ltd has just launched this season a tail paint range, known as Daisy Paint, available in 4 colours. Liam explains, “we see a growing demand for high quality, water-based paint formulated for ease of use and with bright pigment for easy reading”. Daisy Paint, manufactured in Ireland, and the Tailpainter range are available from Tailpainter.com and from all leading agri retailers.