“Overall, we were very happy with herd fertility. We used sexed semen across the board with our replacement heifers, where we achieved 60% conception to first service. In total, 96% of all heifers put forward held to sexed semen prior to the end breeding.”
This is the view of Paul Murphy, farm manager of John O’Connor’s dairy farm located in Kanturk, Co. Cork. The herd consists of pedigree Holsteins and are milked through a robotic milking system.
“We are big into producing top quality heifer calves on the farm, so we use a lot of sexed semen and conduct embryo transfer work also”, said Paul.
This year, Paul decided to use the Agritech fertility supplement, Optimate with the breeding heifers on the farm. The supplement was offered for approximately 6 weeks before breeding at 200g/head/day alongside silage and their daily meal allocation.
How does Optimate work?
Optimate is an essential omega-3 fatty acid supplement with added vitamins which are all rumen protected to improve reproductive performance and herd health in dairy cows.
Optimate uses salmon oil on a highly absorbent carrier and is rumen protected using a high melting point hydrogenated vegetable oil. The result is a fine, free flowing powder that is easily mixed into the feed or used as a top dressing.
The rumen protection of the Salmon oil means it bypasses the rumen and allows for slow targeted release in the intestine.
Salmon oil is used as it provides a natural source of high levels of omega 3 but more importantly, it contains high levels of Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). It is these essential fatty acids which are important for certain biological functions.
Omega 3 fatty acids act on the suppression of prostaglandin which can be increased due to hormonal imbalance with high yielding dairy cows. This can result in a reduction of progesterone secretion which affects the preparation of the uterus for the fertilised embryo.
Embryo Transfer Results
“This was a key performance measure for us. Since introducing Optimate into the diet of our breeding heifers, we’ve had much better success rates with our embryo transfer work this year.
“From three heifers we produced 32 Grade 1 eggs, and 8 Grade 2 eggs, which is a huge improvement in quantity and egg quality from the previous year”, explained Paul.
They also saw an improvement in successful pregnancies in the heifers receiving the embryos, improving from 61% success rate last year to 70% success rate in 2022.
Paul concluded, “Going forward, it’s a no-brainer that we will include Optimate as part of the breeding protocol for heifers that are planned to be embryo donors, recipients, and selected to be bred with sexed semen.”