Successfully Boost Potency of Your Cattle

Fertility of a dairy cow is the ability of the animal to conceive and maintain pregnancy if served at the appropriate time in relation to ovulation. Improving fertility will increase the efficiency of dairy production. This is beneficial for the environment, economic viability and animal welfare. An improvement of reproductive performance for dairy cattle and production will shorten the calving interval, increase the life span of a cow, lower insemination efforts and diminish need for veterinary treatments. Cow fertility is very important for farmers. There are two main challenges in dairy cattle fertility. The first challenge relates to the biological changes in the cow. The second challenge relates to the environment the cow lives in, mainly dependent upon the management. Both points need to be addressed for optimal cow reproduction.

There are several factors such as the environment, nutrition, and insemination process which affect the fertility of cattle.



Environmental Conditions

Environmental conditions in which cows produce differ enormously. For example, a genetically similar cow may live either in Scandinavia or in the Mediterranean region, which will lead to differences in reproductive behaviour. But even within one farm, the environment will affect different cows in different ways. The animal herself is not static in nature and will have continuously varied needs during her lifetime.




The diet of the cow affects her fertility. The energy balance (difference between the calories consumed and expanded) is a core regulator of reproductive status. During early lactation, the energetic cost of milk production is greater than the energy consumed, which results in a prolonged period of a negative energy balance. Body tissue reserves are mobilised as a form of energy supply, which consecutively has a negative influence on ovulation.




Determining the optimal timing for insemination is not an easy task. Not all cows show a standing reflex, and the period of oestrus is often short. Proper detection of the oestrus depends on how experienced the farmer is, in combination with time the farmer monitors the cows. When the farmer is monitoring his herd three times a day for half an hour, only 50-70% of heat cases are caught. Technologies may be helpful in order to increase this percentage. For example, an activity meter or pedometer counts the change in cow activity.


Improving Fertility of the Cow Herd

Reproductive efficiency is easily the key factor determining the profitability of cow-calf operations.


Breeding Yearling Heifers

Yearling heifer management is one of the most trying aspects of cow-calf production. Reasons for breeding failure among yearling heifers falls into two main categories:

  1. The heifer is simply not old enough at the time of breeding.
  2. The heifer is not big enough at the time of breeding.

The age at which heifers reach puberty varies by breed. Typically, smaller breeds reach puberty earlier than larger breeds. Heifers should be at least 12 months old at the beginning of the breeding season. They also need to reach a specific target weight before they reach puberty.



Nutritional management of the cow herd

Inadequate nutrition is also the most common cause of delayed breeding among mature cows. A reproductively efficient cow should calve every 12 months. But in order for her to accomplish this feat, she must breed back within 80 days of calving. Any nutritional stress from delayed gestation until breeding can lengthen the postpartum interval. Cows must be in good shape for calving and maintain this state through the breeding season. Cows that are thin at the time of calving and those that lose body condition from calving to the onset of breeding will either breed late or end up open at the end of the season.



Prevention of reproductive diseases

There are numerous diseases that affect reproduction. Fortunately, all of these can be prevented by means of vaccination and/or management practices. Reproductive diseases such as bovine rhinotracheitis, bovine viral diarrhoea, lepto spirosis, vibriosis and trichomoniasis cause foetal death or abortion in cattle. Producers should consult a local veterinarian annually and rigorously follow their advice.



Factors influencing the fertility of cattle population

The many factors which may influence the fertility of a cattle population include the bull, the method of insemination, the cow herself, the conditions of her management, and mere chance. Heightened attention is paid to factors related to the conditions of herd management. These include the climate, the season, size of the herd, the housing system, the choice of bull, hygiene conditions at the time of calving, the interval between parturition and the first insemination, detection of oestrus, the time of insemination during oestrus, nutrition, selection, and the culling of cows.




Supplements are vital for cow fertility. As farmers strive to improve milk production, often the reproductive performance of the cow is jeopardized. This is commonly due to the prioritizing of the use of nutrients to maintenance and lactation, prior to the needs for reproduction. If in any case the amount of vitamins and minerals for cow fertility are inadequate, reproduction is fortified.

Ready to find out more on how we can help you?

Drop us a line to talk to us. We will be happy to get the information you need to get started.