The farm has seen results using the multiple reproductive protocols. They are currently running a 20 percent pregnancy rate, but have seen rates as high as 25 percent. The herd is running conception rates between 36 to 38 percent during the first service. But even with their reproductive success, Larson says there are still places where their program can be improved.
“I would really like to improve our first service conception rates by five points,” he says. ”I am working on the details of a future trial with Milo Wiltbank of the University of Wisconsin on using a double Ovsynch program to replace our presynch program.”
Trust the technology…
Mike Larson attributes their reproductive success to two management changes. First, they pushed the voluntary waiting period (VWP) back to 74 days. By doing this, they have given cows more time to begin cycling and become ready for conception. They have stopped cherry picking cows in heat. Rather than breeding cows that show signs of heat after the second prostaglandin shot, they ignore any signs of heat and breed the animals as the shot protocol instructs them to.
“We’ve learned most of our techniques by working and talking with other producers, university faculty members and agribusiness individuals in the industry,” said Larson. “Nothing we do is new or magical. We’ve learned it from other people who have seen the results.”
…and the employees
Another key to the Larson Acres reproductive program is the role of employees. All of the breeding is done in-house, so trained employees are doing a great job getting cows pregnant. The farm uses two to three breeders to complete all of the breedings. The employees that are involved in the reproduction program have been involved with the farm for an extended period of time. Even with their breeding skills, Mike notes that they do offer on-farm refresher courses to keep their breeders up to speed and at the top of their performance.
Getting cows pregnant is the bottom line. Even though reproductive protocols are different for every farm, it’s important to find one method and stick to it, like Larson Acres. Whether you decide to breed on natural heats, use heat detectors like pedometers or use an Ovsynch program, following set protocols can ensure reproductive success.