Role of nutrition on reproductive performance

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Often, farmers who are experiencing problems with their cows’ reproductive performance wonder if nutrition may be involved. Although nutritional deficiencies or imbalances are one cause of unacceptable reproductive performance, poor reproductive performance also can be caused by diseases, toxins, and management-related problems. Heat detection generally is the single greatest reason for poor reproductive performance in dairy herds using artificial insemination.

Yet, nutritional problems do affect reproduction. Cows in early lactation are under tremendous nutritional demands. During the first 120 days after calving, a dairy cow produces approximately half of the total milk produced in that lactation. During early lactation, the demand for nutrients to support maintenance and milk production is given the highest priority. Thus, reproduction takes a “back seat” until these demands for nutrients are met. The key to getting cows to milk to their genetic potential and to getting them bred back is to provide them with a wellbalanced diet composed of quality forages, grain, and a mineral and vitamin mix and to maximize consumption of that diet.

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Source: University of Kentucky

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