Steps for estrus synchronization success

Mar 12, 2010
by WLJ

Kansas State University livestock production specialist Sandy Johnson shared an update on the efforts of the North Central Region Bovine Reproductive Task Force as she addressed participants at the Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle (ARS- BC) workshop hosted in conjunction with the 2010 Cattle Industry Annual Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Trade Show in San Antonio, TX. The Task Force has spearheaded the ARS- BC workshops conducted across the country over the past several years.

Johnson reported that the Task Force has developed a “short list” of basic recommendations for timing of artificial insemination (AI) and protocols that work specifically for heifers and a separate list for cows. Johnson explained, “These are the protocols that the Task Force believes will work in a majority of situations and are reasonable to apply.”

Johnson further explained that the Task Force has divided most protocols into one of three categories:

1) strictly heat detection and AI;

2) a combination of heat detection and timed AI; and 3) strictly fixedtimed AI.

“The first decision producers need to make in selecting a protocol for their operation is, ‘How much heat detection do you want to do?’” she said.

“There are a lot of protocols out there,” Johnson said. “This is a short list. If you choose to use a different protocol, make sure you have data to support it; otherwise, the cost and extra steps may add up.”

“Within product category, all products are equally effective, so choose the system that works for you,” she said, citing labor, facilities and timeline as important factors to consider, as well as the support provided by the supplier of the product.

Additionally, Johnson offered these tips to ensure a successful synchronization and AI protocol:

• Make sure to give the correct injection on the day specified in the protocol.

• Use at label dose.

• Follow Beef Quality Assurance guidelines for all injections.

To help producers in implementing synchronization protocols, Johnson provided a working demonstration of the Estrous Syn chronization

Planner software developed by Iowa State University. Features of the software include:

24 estrus synchronization systems, in three categories, including fixed-timed AI, estrus detect with clean-up AI and estrus detect AI; 13 recommended systems for heifers and cows, including the use of CIDRs; 11 less preferred systems for heifers and cows; a daily calendar of activity once the system and date of breeding have been established by the producer; and a budget cost analysis of the various synchronization systems.

“I think most valuable is the calendar, particularly with longer systems,” Johnson said. She explained how the software allows for a date to be plugged in and automatically schedules all injection and breeding dates for the system. “The planner allows you to figure out the times that will work and then generate a list of daily activities to communicate with your labor team, as well as calculate cost per AI pregnancy comparing three systems,” she added.

The Estrous Synchronization Planner software is available to producers for a nominal fee by contacting the Iowa Beef Center ( or 515/294-BEEF), or by downloading an order form from the center’s Web site, — WLJ