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Veterinary dairy herd fertility service provision in seasonal and non-seasonal dairy industries - a comparison

DOI: 10.1186/2046-0481-63-4-230

Keywords: Reproductive management, questionnaire survey, veterinary services

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A herd fertility service (HFS) is considered a basic component of modern herd health service provision in dairy industries internationally [7]. A HFS may be defined as a proactive, routine service provided to manage all aspects of bovine fertility, usually by a veterinary practitioner, with emphasis on the herd as the unit of interest, rather than the fertility of the individual animal. The approach is heuristic as well as algorithmic. It is usually provided on an appointment basis, rather than as part of an emergency call, with visits scheduled at appropriate times relative to the herd breeding pattern. The HFS may be part of a larger herd health service provided by the veterinarian [15]. While planned animal health and production has been promoted in Ireland for many years [2,9,10], the level of adoption in veterinary practice is unknown. The models of veterinary HFS provision are quite diverse between dairy industries internationally, often with little communication of ideas or practices between commercial service providers. For example, pharmacological intervention services to achieve pregnancies may be a routine practice on many North American dairies [4] but not in many European dairy herds [1]. Within Europe, contrasting dairy herd management systems operate in different countries resulting in different, largely undocumented, approaches to dairy herd fertility management. This variation in HFS between countries was the motivation for the international surveys reported here. The objective was to elicit veterinary practitioners' views on HFS provision within Ireland and to compare this with two contrasting dairy industries; The Netherlands and Portugal. In Ireland, the majority of dairy cows calve seasonally, primarily in the spring, and are bred in a low-cost, pastoral management system with emphasis on grassland management, and farmer-led fertility management predominates. In The Netherlands and in Portugal, the majority of dairy cows calve all-year-round and


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