Five easy steps to better heifer reproduction
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Save money in heifer reproduction

March 21, 2017
POSTED BY: Ken Learmont | DVM | Dairy Technical Services | Zoetis

If you think your heifer reproduction program is on track, you may want to look again. Conception rate and percentage of heifers pregnant within three services are metrics commonly used to track performance of heifer reproduction.

Unfortunately, time is the missing component from both of these heifer reproductive measurements. And time wasted is money wasted. There is a sizable financial advantage for a heifer that calves for the first time at 23 months of age versus one that freshens at 25 or 26 months.

Measuring how quickly open heifers are converted to pregnant heifers or the pregnancy rate is a much better indicator. Getting heifers inseminated soon after the end of the voluntary waiting period will have an enormous impact on pregnancy rate because heifers have higher fertility than lactating cows. And it will get them to the milking string sooner.

Follow these five steps to improve management of your heifer reproduction program and save money: 

Step 1: Move heifers to the breeding pen.

Timely pen movement is often overlooked. First, heifers should be moved into the artificial insemination (AI) pen based on age. Then, evaluate if they are ready for breeding by ensuring height and weight targets have been met. On most dairies, heifers should be moved at least every two weeks, but weekly is better.

Step 2: Use prostaglandin on the date of the move.

Depending on your veterinarian’s advice and what works best for your operation, administer LUTALYSE® Injection (dinoprost tromethamine injection) or LUTALYSE® HighCon Injection (dinoprost tromethamine injection) on the day of movement and again 10 to 12 days later for heifers not yet inseminated. Research has found that administering a prostaglandin in this protocol can improve breeding success.1

Step 3: Make sure all heifers are inseminated.

EAZI-BREED CIDR® Cattle Insert should be used for timed breeding on heifers not inseminated during their first 28 days in the breeding pen. This will ensure all heifers are inseminated within 36 days of arrival into the AI pen.

Step 4: Do routine pregnancy checks.

Conduct pregnancy diagnosis routinely as heifers are moved to the breeding pen to identify pregnant females and move them out, making room for new heifers. All pregnancies should be reconfirmed at 70 to 90 days carried calf.

Step 5: Re-enroll open heifers.

At each pregnancy check, any heifers that aren’t bred should be immediately submitted to a breeding program with LUTALYSE or LUTALYSE HighCon and/or EAZI-BREED CIDR.

Simple steps can help accelerate performance and profitability. Your veterinarian is your best resource to help evaluate and manage your breeding program.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION FOR LUTALYSE/LUTALYSE HIGHCON: Women of childbearing age and persons with respiratory problems should exercise extreme caution when handling LUTALYSE/LUTALYSE HighCon. LUTALYSE/LUTALYSE HighCon is readily absorbed through the skin and may cause abortion and/or bronchiospasms, therefore spillage on the skin should be washed off immediately with soap and water. Aseptic technique should be used to reduce the possibility of post-injection clostridial infections. Do not administer LUTALYSE/LUTALYSE HighCon in pregnant cattle unless cessation of pregnancy is desired. See full Prescribing Information for LUTALYSE. See full Prescribing Information for LUTALYSE HighCon.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION FOR EAZI-BREED CIDR INSERTS: Avoid contact with skin by wearing protective gloves when handling EAZI-BREED CIDR inserts. Do not use in heifers of insufficient size or age for breeding or in cattle with abnormal, immature, or infected genital tracts. Do not use inserts more than once.

Stevenson JL, Rodrigues JA, Braga FA, et al. Effect of breeding protocols and reproductive tract score on reproductive performance of dairy heifers and economic outcomes of breeding programs. J Dairy Sci. 2008;91(9):3424-3438.

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