Are conception rates on your farm where you would like them or is there room for improvement? There are a number of factors that can affect the conception rate in dairy cattle. Each can have a considerable impact on the conception rate and all can be prevented and/or controlled. Did you know that hygiene can play a considerable role in reducing conception rates? It’s tempting to think reduced conception would only be a result of calving conditions, post-calving health, reproductive disorders, milk production, nutrition, estrous detection errors, and timing of service. However semen quality and handling, insemination technique, and the environment in which you work can also play a role in reduced pregnancy rate.
Self-assessment time! How would you grade yourself and your employees’ breeding techniques and hygiene before, during, and after performing artificial insemination on the farm? Would you receive an A, B, C, or failing grade? How many of the following good sanitary procedures do you follow?
If you can honestly say you practice all 14 good sanitary practices give yourself an A. However, if you only practice 4 out of 14 it is time to start working harder to implement practices and carefully monitor your conception rates. Dairy farming is a busy business that involves seemingly endless hours of work, but money cannot be made if your cows are not getting bred. Many would say that their reproductive challenges stem from problems directly related to the cow without realizing contamination of breeding tools can cause decreased conception rates. A study presented by Ohio State University at the Joint Annual Meetings in Arizona this past month, looked at the economic impact from use of disposable sheath protectors to minimize contamination of the AI catheter at the time of AI. They concluded that the use of sheath protectors could increase profitability by increasing conception rate when taking into account the cost of synchronization injections, feed, breeding, replacement animals, and daily sales.
Hygiene in the parlor is important and steps should be taken to implement good hygiene practices while breeding your cows in order to increase conception rates. An open cow doesn’t make milk or money!
Franklin and Pittsylvania Counties will be combining efforts to offer a Reproduction Refresher course in late September to Dairy and Beef producers. Watch your mailboxes or call your local ANR agent for more information.
Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, re-print, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Alan L. Grant, Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; Jewel E. Hairston, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State, Petersburg.
August 30, 2012