The 2013 calving season could become yet another victim of this summer's atrocious weather, dairy experts have warned.
Scanning figures from fertility specialist Dr Dan Ryan have revealed that pregnancy rates on farms have fallen far below the target needed for a compact calving period of 85pc calving in six weeks.
Dr Ryan said the six-week pregnancy rate among more than 6,000 cows scanned ranged from 30pc to a 73pc, with an average of 47pc.
The eight-week pregnancy rate among 3,700 cows was 66pc on average.
"I have found a high rate of embryonic and foetal death of 5-10pc between 35 and 60 days, compared to a normal rate of 1-2pc," said Dr Ryan.
"It's the worst year I have ever seen and I've been scanning cows for 25 years."
The reproductive expert maintained that adverse weather conditions and poor quality, low dry matter fodder were causing cows to lose body condition, affecting their ability to hold their pregnancies.
Meanwhile, the latest information from the ICBF shows that almost half of Herdplus herds had a higher repeat rate for 2012 compared to 2011.
Analysis of more than 27,000 cows and 7,800 heifers inseminated in 2011 and over 30,000 cows and 9,164 heifers in the same herds this year shows that 48pc of the herds had a higher repeat rate than 2011, 8pc had the same rate, while 44pc had a lower repeat rate.
However, Ross Evans from ICBF warned that it was still too early to detect concrete trends for 2012.
Insemination records for AI sires cannot be compared to 2011 yet as the DIY AI inseminations have not yet been recorded.
Dr Padraig French said that while non-return rates in Teagasc herds were slightly better than other years at more than 60pc, the next month to six weeks would give a clearer picture of nationwide fertility rates.
- Caitriona Murphy
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