Four keys to reach a 30% pregnancy rate
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Four keys to reach a 30% pregnancy rate

March 27, 2015
POSTED BY: Ken Learmont | DVM | Dairy Technical Services | Zoetis

Herd reproductive performance is a key driving factor for maximizing animal health and herd profitability. Pregnancy rate can have an effect on many areas of the dairy including days in milk, culling and number of replacements born. Producers are commonly happy with a 20 to 24% pregnancy rate, but Paul M. Fricke, PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison is pushing the paradigm, encouraging producers to strive for a 30% pregnancy rate.

At the 2014 Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council (DCRC) annual meeting, Fricke talked about the four keys to achieving a 30% 21-day pregnancy rate in a 30,000-pound dairy herd.

  1. Aggressively inseminate cows after the end of the voluntary waiting period
    The goal is to obtain as high of an insemination rate as possible at first breeding. In order to get a cow pregnant, get first service into all cows shortly after the end of the voluntary waiting period. This task may seem simple, but many dairies face the problem of not getting semen into cows in a timely manner. Fortunately, we now have tools such as synchronization protocols to improve breeding.

  2. Improve first service conception rate
    In order to increase fertility of the first breeding, a cow needs to be cycling and ovulating a healthy egg at insemination. Synchronization protocols have helped producers greatly improve conception rates. In fact, some dairies are now achieving a 50% or higher rate on first service through fixed-timed artificial insemination (AI) protocols. These fixed-timed AI protocols work to achieve scheduling the ovulation just right with an egg that is healthy and viable. Therefore, increasing conception in lactating dairy cows.

  3. Identify nonpregnant cows and aggressively rebreed them
    Catching cows coming back into estrus after an initial breeding is one of the earliest nonpregnancy diagnoses producers can make. If cows are found open at pregnancy diagnosis, cows should be immediately resynched and rebred.  

  4. Increase fertility to second and greater service 
    Although a 30% pregnancy rate would appear to be difficult to reach if a cow was not diagnosed as pregnant after the first service, studies show otherwise. With a proper resynch protocol, it is possible for dairies to achieve a 30% pregnancy rate.

A successful dairy reproduction program is a team effort. Zoetis understands the changing needs of today’s dairy producers and veterinarians. We are committed to developing solutions for reproductive success, including multiple estrous synchronization product approvals and PeopleFirst programs to help develop the people behind the process. As the world leader in dairy reproduction research, support and technical services, we are here to help you with your on-farm reproductive program. To learn more visit




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