An introduction to bovine fertility

Posted on May 15, 2018 by John Dawson

Bovine fertilityToday the demand is on the bovine practitioner to deliver a diverse, accurate fertility visit with innovative treatment. Our knowledgeable clients are increasingly performing more and more routine tasks in-house or by lay personnel. Dairy farms are diversifying into 2 main dairy types, seasonal/grass based systems are becoming increasingly popular and the higher input high yielding group are holding their ground. These 2 groups require different types of service when it comes to reproductive demands.   

Grass based production farms require the very accurate early pregnancy diagnosis with effective oestrus synchronisation programs for the not in calf. The high in-put all year round herds requirements are diverse and depends on their genetic merit and their owner’s interests. However, in all systems the best performing herds require accurate diagnosis of the reproductive state allowing either individual or group treatment regimes which are tailored to the findings.

Since the introduction of ultrasound the understanding of the bovine oestrus cycle has transformed. Accurate pregnancy staging, along with twin diagnosis, embryo viability and foetal sexing are now common place. 

Pregnancy diagnosis along with accurate interpretation of potential pregnancy problem are essential ingredients for the dairy fertility service supplied to the grass based systems. Understanding of the bovine oestrus cycle and interpretation of cycle anomalies such as delayed ovulation, hemorrhagic corpera lutea and persistent ovarian structures have transformed the rectal ultrasonographic examination into a very useful diagnostic tool. Accurate interpretation allows very accurate treatment choices for the high yielding all year round calving herds.

Whats best for the animal?

Synchronization programs are either becoming more and more complicated using more and more hormonal doses or they are becoming ever shortened programs, (The 5 day Progesterone synchronization program – is it superior?) it can be very confusing knowing which is the best for the individual animal.

There are only 3 hormones in our armory and some suggest there is limited way they can be used. However, with accurate ultrasonographic examination and identification, hormonal combinations can be used in many different ways to their ultimate aim of getting the cow in calf effectively and quickly.  In many cases with accurate interpretation of the ultrasound image hormonal use is avoided or reduced saving cost for your customer. Synchronisation programs need multiple hormonal administrations with increasingly complicated programs to attain higher conception rates. Ultrasonography’s accuracy can have the opposite benefit. 

Client satisfaction

Responding to the client in the appropriate way is paramount to client satisfaction. Knowing how to accurately stage a pregnancy, diagnose the correct stage of the oestrus cycle or interpret abnormal reproductive state of the bovine can benefit the cow as well as improve your standing with the client. There is also the responsible use of hormones to be considered. If we can reduce the number of hormonal administrations we don’t only reduce the cost we reduce the amount used. This can only be of benefit for the cow and the general public’s perception of reproductive manipulated practice in the bovine world. 

Why not join us on our upcoming workshop where your skills will be enhances and your respectability with your clients can be increased, achieved by getting their cows in calf efficiently or accurately diagnosing the pregnancy state.

John Dawson

Written by John Dawson

John's interest in Bovine Ultrasonography started in 1988 when he was one of the first to purchase a scanner for Bovine  work.  He spent 29 years in large animal practice where he specialised in bovine fertility and Embryo Transfer.  3 years ago he became sole Director of Embryonics Ltd who deliver LA workshops all with a practical element.  John's interest and expertise in bovine fertility and ultrasonography has taken him throughout the world delivering training workshops.