Pelvic measuring of heifers will now be a regular activity on Morayshire Monitor Farm after recent try outs found merit in it as a management tool.
Pelvic measuring is a simple process where the height and width of the pelvis are recorded before pregnancy; the data can then be used to improve breeding practices.
Monitor Farmer Iain Green decided to try out pelvic measuring last year and so took measurements from a group of 31 heifers, all put to the same bull. The team then gave each heifer a score for calving ease and also for calf size.
Mr Green said: “Most of the heifers were selected due in part to their reasonably large pelvic measurements, and most of them did very well at calving with only five of the 31 needing any assistance.
“However, there was one heifer in the mix with a particularly small pelvis who I left in because she just looked such a cracker, and unfortunately she was one of just two heifers who needed a caesarean. Her calf was a good size but not that large, the other heifer which had a caesarean had a very large calf.
“For me it proved that pelvic measuring can be a very helpful tool to eliminate those heifers which are more likely to have problems. From now on we will be measuring all the heifers and those with small pelvises will be fattened on farm.”
The Morayshire Monitor farm is one of nine monitor farms established in Scotland as part of a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds with funding from the Scottish Government. The aim of the Monitor Farm Programme is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.
Vet Mark Pearson from Moray Coast Vet Group, who demonstrated the pelvic measuring procedure at a recent meeting on the Morayshire Monitor Farm, agrees that it is a useful tool, especially in light of statistics which suggest that 40 per cent of heifers need some assistance when it comes to calving.
Mr Pearson said: “Calf mortality is very much affected by calving and so anything we can do to make that process as easy as possible should be put in place.
“However, pelvic measuring is just one tool in the toolbox, there are lots of other variables that farmers need to be aware of which affect calving ease; the genetics of the bull, the age and condition of the heifer as well as nutrition and stockmanship.
“We need to ensure all these factors are optimal, and then look at the pelvis measurements, when managing heifer breeding.”
For more information about the monitor farm programme visit www.monitorfarms.co.uk