Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Estrus: control in the dairy herd

Contributor(s): Jonathan Statham , John Remnant

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Why control estrus?

  • Although control of estrus is often thought of in terms of synchronization of multiple animals, it actually forms a key aspect of the veterinary diagnosis driven fertility visit.
  • Individual cows that present as ‘estrus not observed’ once past the voluntary waiting period (VWP) may be examined and an individual solution for control of estrus be constructed:
    • This may include treatments followed by further observation for estrus behavior, often now supported by sensor technologies such as accelerometers, or may involve strategies for fixed time insemination where estrus is controlled.
  • This is increasingly important as society expects careful consideration before any chemical interventions with our food production animals:
    • This attitude is pertinent to use of hormones as well as antimicrobials and significantly seeks to avoid blanket use of hormones in control estrus.
    • This is reflected in contractual changes being implemented by some milk processors and retailers.
    • Individual veterinary diagnosis is becoming a requirement before use of hormones to control estrus.
  • To obtain maximum benefit from using Artificial insemination (AI), fixed time insemination can be used to complement good heat detection:
    • Facilitate block serving and a compact calving period.
    • Reduce the time and labor required for constant heat observation.
    • Improve the timing of first AI in lactation or returns.
  • Fixed time artificial insemination (FTAI), however may require repeated collection and handling of stock. It may not completely eliminate the need for heat detection, as females failing to become pregnant have to be identified and served, unless a sweeper bull is used.
  • It is important to consider how AI, fixed time insemination and synchronization will be integrated into the management of the herd:
    • Farmers and their veterinary advisors need to decide:
      • How non-pregnant cows will be detected.
      • How many times cows will be fixed time inseminated.
      • Whether a sweeper bull will be used.
    • An individual approach could be taken without any batch synchronization approach but presenting cows for veterinary examination and FTAI if not served by set time such as 60 days in milk (DIM) 
  • Batches of heifers and animals in Embryo Transfer (ET) programs may be considered for synchronization as part of rational farm management.

Signs of heat/estrus

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Estrus detection

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The hormones

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Examples of fixed time AI programs

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Critical success factors

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Post-insemination

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Statham J M E (2017) Sustainable use of hormones & reproductive management in practice. Cattle Practice 25 (2),113-114.
  • Higgins H M, Ferguson E, Smith R F, Green M J (2013) Using Hormones to Manage Dairy Cow Fertility: The Clinical and Ethical Beliefs of Veterinary Practitioners. PLoS ONE 8(4), e62993 PubMed.
  • Statham J M E (2012) Fertility management of dairy cows. Cattle Practice 20, 48-56.
  • Holman A, Thompson J, Routly J E, Cameron J, Jones D N, Grove-White R F, Smith R F, Dobson H (2011) Comparison of oestrus detection methods in dairy cattle. Vet Rec 169, 47 PubMed.
  • Roelofs J, López-Gatius F, Hunter R H F, van Eerdenburg F J C M & Hanzen C (2010) When is a cow in estrus? Clinical and practical aspects. Theriogenology 74 (2010) 327-344 PubMed
  • Stevenson J L, Dalton J C, Santos J E P, Sartori R, Ahmadzadeh A & Chebel R C (2008) Effect of Synchronization Protocols on Follicular Development and Estradiol and Progesterone Concentrations of Dairy Heifers. J Dairy Sci 91, 3045-3056 PubMed.
  • Chebel R C, Santos J E P, Cerri R L A, Rutigliano H M & Bruno R G S (2006) Reproduction in Dairy Cows Following Progesterone Insert Presynchronization and Resynchronization Protocols. J Dairy Sci 89, 4205-4219 PubMed
  • Roelofs J B, van Eerdenburg F J C M, Soede N M &  Kemp B (2005a) Various behavioral signs of estrous and their relationship with time of ovulation in dairy cattle. Theriogenology 63, 1366-1377 PubMed
  • Roelofs J B, van Eerdenburg F J C M, Soede N M & Kemp B (2005b) Pedometer readings for estrous detection and as predictor for time of ovulation in dairy cattle. Theriogenology 64, 1690-1703 PubMed.
  • Lopez H, Satter L D, Wiltbank M C (2004) Relationship between level of milk production and estrous behavior of lactating dairy cows. Anim Reprod Sci 81, 209-223 PubMed.
  • Mawhinney I & Biggadike H (1998) A field study of the Intercept planned breeding routine for dairy cows involving GnRH and PGF2α. Cattle Practice 6, 29-31.
  • Nebel R L & Jobst S M (1998) Symposium: gonadotrophin-releasing hormone and prostaglandin for estrus detection. Evaluation of systematic breeding programs for lactating dairy cows: a review. J Dairy Sci 81,1169-1174 PubMed.
  • Pursley J R, Silcox R W, Wiltbank M C (1998) Effect of time of artificial insemination on pregnancy rates, calving rates, pregnancy loss, and gender ratio after synchronization of ovulation in lactating dairy cows. J Dairy Sci 81, 2139-2144 PubMed.
  • Pursley J R, Kosorok M R, Wiltbank M C (1997) Reproductive management of lactating dairy cows using synchronization of ovulation. J Dairy Sci 80, 301-306 PubMed.
  • Pursley J R, Wiltbank M C, Stevenson J S, Ottobre J S, Garverick H A, Anderson L L (1997) Pregnancy rates per artificial insemination for cows and heifers inseminated at a synchronized ovulation or synchronized estrus. J Dairy Sci 80, 295-300 PubMed.
  • Pursley J R, Mee M O, Wiltbank M C (1995) Synchronization of ovulation in dairy cows using PGF2alpha and GnRH. Therio 44, 915-923 PubMed.


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