Take milk production into account when designing a breeding program for your dairy.

Cows in high-producing herds (with 80 pounds per cow per day or more) may not express heat as strongly as cows in lower-producing herds, according to Milo Wiltbank, reproductive physiologist at the University of Wisconsin. In high-producing herds, high feed intake often leads to hepatic metabolism of ovarian steroids, he says. In other words, cows metabolize high amounts of estrogen and progesterone in the liver, and that can limit the expression of estrus or heat.

You can counteract this tendency by using some form of synchronized or timed breeding in your herd, says Gavin Staley, technical services specialist with Monsanto Dairy Business. That, in turn, can raise heat-detection rates in high-producing herds.