• An economic comparison of pasture-based production systems differing in sward type and cow genotype

      McClearn, B.; Shalloo, L.; Gilliland, T.J.; Coughlan, F.; McCarthy, B.; Dairy Research Ireland; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (American Dairy Science Association, 2020-05)
      The objective of this study was to compare the economic performance of 2 sward types [perennial ryegrass (PRG; Lolium perenne L.) sown with or without white clover (Trifolium repens L.)] grazed by 3 cow genotypes. Physical performance data were collected from a 4-yr systems experiment based at Clonakilty Agricultural College, Clonakilty, Co. Cork, Ireland. The experiment compared 2 sward types (PRG-only swards and PRG–white clover swards), with each sward type being grazed by cows from 3 genotypes [Holstein-Friesian (HF), Jersey × HF (JEX), and Norwegian Red × JEX (3-way)]. All systems were stocked at 2.75 cows/ha with fixed fertilizer applications and concentrate supplementation. The data supplied 6 production systems (2 sward types × 3 cow genotypes). The production systems were modeled using the Moorepark Dairy Systems Model (stochastic budgetary simulation model) under 2 scenarios, one in which land area was fixed and one in which cow numbers were fixed. The analysis was completed across a range of milk prices, calf prices, and reseeding programs. The analysis showed that in the fixed-land scenario with a milk price of €0.29/L, adding white clover to PRG swards increased profitability by €305/ha. In the same fixed-land scenario, JEX cows were most profitable (€2,606/ha), followed by 3-way (€2,492/ha) and HF (€2,468/ha) cows. In the fixed-cow scenario, net profit per cow was €128 greater for PRG–white clover swards compared with PRG-only swards. In this scenario, JEX was the most profitable per cow (€877), followed by HF (€855) and 3-way (€831). The system that produced the highest net profit was JEX cows grazing PRG–white clover swards (€2,751/ha). Regardless of reseeding frequency or variations in calf value, JEX cows grazing PRG–white clover swards consistently produced the highest net profit per hectare.
    • Economic impact of different strategies to use sex-sorted sperm for reproductive management in seasonal-calving, pasture-based dairy herds

      Ruelle, E.; Shalloo, L.; Butler, S.T.; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Science Foundation Ireland; Irish Dairy Levy; 15/5/696; 16/RC/3835 (Elsevier, 2021)
      To maximize efficiency, profitability, and societal acceptance of modern dairy production, it is important to minimize the production of male dairy calves with poor beef merit. One solution involves using sex-sorted sperm (SS) to generate dairy replacements and breeding all other cows to an easy-calving, short-gestation bull with good beef merit. We used the Pasture Based Herd Dynamic Milk Model to investigate the effect of herd fertility and use of SS on farm net profit in a herd of 100 cows. This was completed by simulating herds with differing fertility performance (good, average, poor), and differing farm reproductive management [conventional semen (CONV) or SS with varying pregnancy per artificial insemination (P/AI) relative to CONV (i.e., relative P/AI 100%, 85%, and 70%)]. As an additional consideration, the method of allocating SS to cows was also examined. The first option used SS on random heifers and cows (S). The second option used SS on heifers and targeted high-fertility cows (SSel). The final option was similar to SSel, but used a fixed-time artificial insemination (AI) protocol to facilitate AI on the farm mating start date (SSync). For CONV, dairy breed semen was used for AI until 50 animals were pregnant (50% chance of a female calf), whereas for S, SSel, or SSync the target number of animals successfully conceiving with SS was set at 28 (based on assumed 90% chance of a female calf from pregnancies derived from SS). Beef breed semen was used on all other dams. The results indicated that the biggest effect on farm net profit was not based on whether or not SS was used, but instead was most affected by the overall fertility performance of the herd. Total farm profit decreased by 10% between the good and average fertility herds, and decreased by a further 12% between the average and poor fertility herds. In almost all situations, when the relative P/AI with SS was 85%, use of SS led to an overall increase of the farm net profit. There was an economic benefit of using either SSel or SSync compared with S for the average and poor fertility herds but not for the good fertility herd, highlighting an interaction between SS P/AI and overall herd fertility as well as management practices. If the relative P/AI with SS was <70%, the use of SS led to a decrease in profitability in all simulations except for SSync, highlighting the importance of a good management strategy for use of SS. The findings in this study indicated that SS has significant potential to help facilitate greater integration between the dairy and beef production sectors, as well as increase farm profitability when used appropriately.