Does Your Breeding Program Fit Your Calving Window?
With breeding season upon us, cattlemen are asking themselves how to best take advantage of their breeding window. Understanding estrous synchronization in cattle and how to use it in your breeding program will help you set yourself up for success.
For many, following an effective estrous synchronization protocol in conjunction with artificial insemination can be successful.
When it comes down to it, no one wants calving season to drag on. Reaching your reproductive goals during breeding season is important and will help you understand whether or not you’re getting a good ROI.
With the proper plan in place, you can feel confident that your breeding season will be successful.
How to Use Estrous Synchronization in Your Breeding Program
Determining your ideal breeding time can be based on a number of different factors. You’ll want to evaluate the breeding costs of your cow calf operations and what kind of expenses you’ll incur.
Knowing your operational needs and expenses is important because it will allow you to know if you’ll have enough manpower to get the job done.
Factoring in weather conditions is another consideration. If you have 10 or 15 calves that hit the ground during a cold spell, will you have the space to properly house them?
Do you have the right set up to calve in the colder weather? Some cattlemen have started pushing off their calving window to May because they’ve found that they don’t have to fight weather conditions and have labor more readily available.
So how can you ensure your breeding season is successful? Let’s look at how a proper estrous synchronization protocol can get you there.
What is Estrous Synchronization?
Estrous synchronization is a way to manipulate a cattle’s estrous (heat) cycle so that all of your cattle can be bred at the same time.
Beef cattle generally go through a 21-day estrous cycle. But not all cattle go through this cycle at the same time. That can lead to irregularities in the timing of calving season. Late calvers can produce lighter calves and ultimately cost you money.
What Are the Advantages of Estrous Synchronization?
It allows females to conceive earlier in the breeding season.
Reduces time and labor when you utilize AI.
Produces a more uniform calf crop that are all similar in age. (1)
The best way to implement an estrous synchronization protocol is through the use of a CIDR® (controlled intravaginal drug release aka controlled internal drug release).
How Does a CIDR® Work
A CIDR® is a T-shaped rubber device with a nylon spine that contains progesterone. Progesterone is the hormone that blocks estrus and helps cattle maintain pregnancy. (2
Basically, a CIDR® is a transport mechanism to introduce progesterone to modify the breeding cycle in cattle.
One of the reasons CIDRs are so useful is that they make insertion simple and can be used in a variety of ways for producers.
Depending on your breeding schedule, using a CIDR® will give you the option of using a short-term or long-term synchronization protocol.
Next Steps to Success
You know that dialing in your estrous synchronization protocol is important and utilizing CIDRs can help you manage your breeding season to be as precise as possible.
There are tradeoffs to having an earlier or a later calving season. Only you can determine what’s best for your operation and how your marketing plan is going to work.
But with some small management changes, you can be confident this breeding season is a success.
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1. Dyer, Ted G., Graves, William M., Estrous Synchronization Procedures for Beef Cattle, University of Georgia https://secure.caes.uga.edu/extension/publications/files/pdf/B%201232_5.pdf
3. For more detailed information on estrous synchronization protocols, visit https://www.iowabeefcenter.org/estrussynch.html
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