It’s usually doing the little things well — which add up to big things — that set dairies apart when it comes to reproductive success.

Following are some observations on what veterinarian Steve Stewart, Valley Ag Software, sees people doing well on successful operations.

  1. Insemination tasks are performed properly.
    This means consistently following protocols from how semen is removed from storage, to proper thawing time and temperature to protection of loaded semen guns from harsh environments. It also includes minimizing the time from thawing to insemination and the proper placement of semen within the uterus.
  2. Heat detection training is offered.
    For herds that rely on heat detection, successful dairies have given adequate training on the specific methods (like tail chalk or visual mounts) used. In addition, pens are walked daily and carefully monitored by trained personnel to ensure that as many animals are detected in estrus as possible. “There is almost always one individual critical to the success of these systems,” says Stewart. “Find them and reward them.”
  3. Synchronization protocols are followed.
    For herds that depend on synchronization protocols, those that achieve the best results have people that place an extremely high priority on finding all animals on the lists and ensure that the proper dose of the proper product is given using the correct needle in the correct location. Often, failure of synchronization programs are blamed on the sequence of products, notes Stewart. “However, in many cases, the failure actually arises from issues other than the actual drugs.”
  4. Frequent training and reviews are offered.
    Dairies with elite reproductive programs make sure the actual delivery of all tasks, as well as outcomes, are reviewed on a frequent basis, with reinforcement and retraining offered as needed. “The best dairies do not wait to catch someone doing something wrong and punish them,” Stewart says. Instead, they clearly define all procedures, train thoroughly and review systems and procedures frequently.