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Are you maximizing your reproductive program?

UW Extension Fond du Lac County
The reproductive program directly influences the calving rate and the number of dairy replacements available for the herd and milk yield due to an extended low productive lactation.

A top reproductive program really defines a successful dairy.

The three largest expenses of the dairy operation are: feeding lactating cows; raising the dairy replacement herd; and labor.

The reproductive program directly influences the calving rate and the number of dairy replacements available for the herd and milk yield due to an extended low productive lactation.

So what is the most limiting factor in a reproductive program? The failure to detect heats.

To address the failure to detect heats, many technologies and practices have been developed and adopted, such as a systematic breeding system using hormones. However, to get the most out of a systematic breeding program, compliance is the key factor.

Compliance is the administration of treatments or actions according to a prescribed protocal.

Compliance monitoring can occur two ways: the execution (administration) of the shots at key times and the outcome (pregnancies). A compliant program is getting the right cows, the right injection, at the right time. Important compliance factors include:

  • Accurate cow identification
  • Appropriate drug type and dosage
  • Correct time, day, route of administration
  • Appropriate time of insemination

When is good compliance good enough? 

What happens if you were only compliant with a PreSynch/OvSynch protocol some of the time? Will all the cows complete the protocol?

If the cow does not receive all the shots at the right times, there is no change for her to become pregnant based on the program.

For example, if an individual is administering each shot only 95% of the time correctly, the overall protocol is only 77% compliant. In school, this equals a Grade D. When is good compliance...good enough? When there is 100% compliance.

There is also a cost factor due to compliance. With the cost of GnRH, prostaglandin, cow handling and CIDR application, a protocol can cost anywhere from $12.90 to $24,80 per cow. And when we are not compliant in following the reproductive protocol, that is money thrown away. Then add an additional potential $200 to $300 loss for not having a pregnancy.

To achieve compliance, each farm has to develop a system to administer the correct injections to the correct cows on the correct days, then subsequently A the correct cows. Failure to follow compliance dramatically or completely reduces the conception rate and ultimately a delayed pregnancy. Nothing less than 100% compliance should be acceptable.