If you want today's high-producing cow to attain reproductive efficiency, you have to manage her like a high-performance car. "We always struggle with the fact that high production is not compatible with high reproductive efficiency, which to me is just difficult to accept," says Jose Santos, dairy nutritionist at the University of Florida.

Adequate energy intake after calving appears to affect the cow at the follicular level. For instance, cows fed a higher-energy diet achieved higher-quality oocytes faster than cows fed a lower-energy diet, Santos says. The number of oocytes also increased as energy density increased. Optimum nutrient intake after calving also may play a role in reducing the risk of uterine disease.