Every producer knows that dreaded feeling when you find a cow who once was pregnant suddenly show up as “open.” Not only is this a discouraging feeling, but the loss of pregnancy can snowball into long-term financial impacts as well.
Losses come from decreased milk production, an increased cull rate, increases in semen expense, veterinary expenses and over-conditioned cows. These costs are coupled with a reduced ability to cull cows, sell heifers, grow the herd internally, fewer calves born each year and increased herd health risks from potentially needing to purchase cattle.
According to Alan Ealy, professor of reproductive biology at Virginia Tech, infertility stems from the metabolic demands of lactation, where cows shift nutrient resources toward producing milk in place of preparing the ovaries and uterus for conception and pregnancy. This can sometimes make maintaining a pregnancy hard to achieve.
- Develop and follow a standard operating procedure for detecting estrus from 17 to 24 days after insemination.
- Diagnose pregnancy at day 28 to 35. This will allow you to re-synchronize and re-breed open cows.
- Do not forget to monitor estrus activity in cows that were pregnant at day 28-35. Intense estrus observations may not be possible, but using tail-head markers or activity monitors is recommended to identify the subset of pregnant cows that will lose their calf.
- Recheck the pregnant cows again around day 60 of the pregnancy. Nearly all of anticipated pregnancy losses will have occurred by this time, so you can identify and re-synchronize and re-breed any open cows.
For more articles on pregnancy loss, read: