Mark E. Carson BSc. (Agr). MSc., Gencor Herd Reproduction Analyst
Here is some really simple math that can be useful in the barn for assessing herd performance. A good thumb rule is 10% of your herd should be calving out each month. That means (at minimum) 10% of your herd needs to be getting pregnant each month.
A "hard count" is simply setting a targeted number of pregnancies. The math is really quick and easy to do. If you are milking 30 cows you should be targeting a minimum of 3 to 4 pregnancies per month. If you are milking 300 cows, the goal should be 30 to 40 pregnancies per month. If you are a herd growing in size, you will need to set a slightly higher goal.
Keeping this flow of pregnancies rolling through your herd will help keep your milk production more consistent by ensuring a steady continuation of fresh cows entering your herd.
During veterinary herd-health visits, check to see if your herd is reaching its goal of at least 10% of cows getting pregnant per month. If less then 10% of your cows are getting pregnant per month, it would be worth investigating your herd's reproductive performance.
As always, work with your veterinarian, nutritionist, Semex representative and other trusted advisors to make sure your herd is reaching its reproductive potential.