August 24, 2000 | By: Aimee D. Heald

With fall just around the corner, dairy producers know that it is the optimal breeding season for the industry. Summer, traditionally a low-fertility time for a dairy herd, is winding down and producers are calving cows that need to be bred back before the end of the year.

"It will soon be time for dairy farmers to really intensify reproductive management, maximize heat-detection efficiency, and get cows pregnant." said George Heersche, Jr., dairy specialist for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

Heersche talked about some key factors to maximize fertility. It's important to find a qualified inseminator who places importance on high quality semen that has been handled correctly and for the inseminator to be on the farm at the right time.

Also, Heersche suggested inseminating cows that are definitely in heat, have been vaccinated for reproductive diseases, are consuming a balanced ration that is low in mycotoxins, and are not under or overfed protein.

"Catching cows in heat continues to be a big management challenge for managers utilizing the safe and genetically superior method of getting cows pregnant, artificial insemination," Heersche said.

He recommends watching to see if cows are in heat three times a day, watching for 30 minutes each time. Also, producers should watch cows on concrete, rather than dirt, when possible. Use a 21-day reproduction calendar to anticipate which cows will be in heat.

Producers also can use commercial heat-detection aids to know which cows are in heat.

"Dairy farmers can make it easier to catch cows in heat if they can get more than one cow in heat at a time," Heersche said. "Monday- morning prostaglandin programs have become popular synchronization methods. Open cows that need to be bred are injected with a prostaglandin product on Monday morning and watched very closely for heat on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday."

Fall and early winter are great times to get dairy cows pregnant and can be a time for dairy producers to get particularly high returns on time and energy invested in managing dairy herd reproduction.


George Heersche 859-257-5987