It’s not easy to build and maintain a consistent, successful breeding program. Just ask most dairy producers. Everyone struggles at one time or another.
Reproduction is a multi-faceted, complicated process, says Jim Salfer, University of Minnesota extension dairy educator. “Not only does the cow’s physiology need to cooperate, dairy managers must inseminate the cow with fertile, high quality semen at the correct time,” he says.
Still, it’s not out of the question to shoot for a 20 percent 21-day pregnancy rate. To get there you need to make sure all parts of your reproductive program work together — which means you need to assess your program from time to time.
Salfer offers the following points to ponder when it comes to evaluating your reproductive program:
- Are all cows accurately identified? Cattle often lose ear tags that are never replaced. It is difficult to identify cows in heat without visible identification.
- Do you have a good record keeping system in place? If natural heat detection is used, a record keeping system to identify potential cows in heat should be used every day. For synchronization programs, it is very important that cows be tracked properly.
- Review your transition program. Cows with metabolic diseases around calving will have poorer reproductive performance.
- Evaluate your calving area.
- Review fresh cow mastitis infections.
- Has your breeding technician been properly trained? How long has it been since their semen handling and insemination skills been evaluated?
- Have thermometers or thaw units been checked?
There is nothing magic about successful reproductive programs, says Salfer. “Success is based on attention to detail.”
Source: University of Minnesota