At Vlot Bros. Dairy near Chowchilla, Calif., cows have access to exercise lots on a constant basis. “It has to be absolutely storming for me to close my gates,” says co-owner Dirk Vlot. That, in turn, helps keep the cows in good reproductive shape.

Vlot bros. dairy in California does a remarkable job with its reproductive program, given the fact it is a high-producing herd, averaging 90 pounds of milk per cow per day since the start of this year. (Please see related profit tip, “High milk production may affect estrus expression.” )

Fifty percent of the cows get pregnant within 90 days in milk, which is outstanding.

Instead of timed breeding, the farm gives each cow an injection of prostaglandin at 40 days in milk. Cows are then inseminated based on a daily tail-chalking program. It’s a system that’s simple and repeatable, says Gavin Staley, technical services specialist with Monsanto Dairy Business.

The farm’s heat-detection rate is 62 percent, which is very good for a high-producing herd that is not on a timed-breeding program, Staley says. In essence, the farm has created synchronized, sexually active groups of cows by giving prostaglandin shots and then encouraging heat expression by providing access to exercise lots.