In order to have a successful reproduction program, “producers must start planning for it when the cow is dried off in the previous lactation,” notes Don Shumaker, an independent dairy nutritionist based in Blue Springs, Miss. Getting cows transitioned back into the milking herd is essential for breeding to occur on time.

Shumaker has seen good results from adding essential fatty acids to the pre-fresh ration. Several of his clients have added the fatty acids to their pre-fresh rations, and then continue it in their fresh diets through at least 30 days in milk. As a result, many clients have made significant improvements to their 21-day pregnancy rates — for example, going from 16 percent to 20 percent up to 28 percent to 31 percent.