A major industry project is looking to boost both the profitability and environmental credentials of Welsh beef farms by bringing farmers and vets together in an initiative to maximise herd fertility.
Improving the fertility of cattle – through proactive measures such as timely pregnancy detection and monitoring the health of cows – is a recognised way of improving the efficiency of beef herds.
The steps in the animal health initiative have also helped reduce the output of greenhouse gases, such as methane.
Now, out of over 100 beef enterprises enrolled on the Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) Stoc+ project, 47 have signed up to take part in an intensive project to maximise their cattle fertility.
Veterinary officials will visit farms up to four times to carry out various activity to help improve fertility among the herd.
The project promotes proactive flock and herd health management – to help Wales lead the world in animal welfare, sustainability and efficiency – and is one strand of the Red Meat Development Programme, a 5-year Welsh government and EU-funded initiative.
HCC Flock and Herd Health Officer Lowri Williams explained the reasons behind the fertility drive: “Our aim this Spring is to assess the benefits of implementing recognised cattle fertility management tools on farm.
“The project will encourage farmers to carry out routine timely pregnancy detection, pelvic scoring and body condition scoring to improve calving interval, the ease of calving and increase the overall health and productivity of suckler herds.”
She added: “Research carried out for HCC’s environmental vision, The Welsh Way, showed that fertility improvements such as reducing the average calving interval and improving calves’ growth rates and survival, can be central to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from beef farming by over 10%.”
One farm taking part in the scheme is Rhys Lewis, who runs Sarnau Fawr in Llanfihangel y Creuddyn, Ceredigion. He said: “Being part of the beef fertility project will help us work closely and proactively with our vets.”
“Through this we can gain efficiency and therefore produce a more profitable suckler herd, as well as reducing emissions in the long term,” added his brother Huw Lewis.