Could your herd’s pregnancy rate stand room for improvement? The U.S. average pregnancy rate is estimated to be about 14 percent.

It makes economic sense to sharpen a pregnancy rate hovering near the national average. Each point improvement in pregnancy rate is worth $20 per cow per year, says Neil Michael, director of global technical services for ABS Global. “It’s worth doing,” he said to audiences at the 3rd Annual I-29 Dairy Conference held last week in South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota.

Opportunities exist to improve a herd’s pregnancy rate. One strategy is to use blood progesterone testing to evaluate the efficiency of the timed insemination protocol used in your herd. Here are Michael’s recommendations for collecting samples from animals enrolled in a timed A.I. program.

1. Use an individual red-top tube to collect a sample on the day you breed cows.

2. Label the tube with the cow’s ID and date.

3. Spin the sample down using a centrifuge or allow it to sit upright until the serum separates from the clotted red blood cells.

4. Pour off the serum into another red-top tube and label accordingly.

5. Store the sample in the freezer.

6. Take another blood sample from the same animal at seven to 14 days post-insemination.

7. Pack samples in a foam shipping box with ice packs and submit to a lab that provides a progesterone-testing service.

A synchronization rate of 90 percent or more is a good goal to strive for when evaluating the efficiency of the protocol used in your herd.

For more information about using blood progesterone testing, go to: