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A.I. & Breeding

From estrus and heat detection to genomics and sexed semen, discover the latest information to improve reproductive performance.

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Reproductive performance impacts milk production and, therefore, profitability of a dairy herd. Recently, improvements have been noted in 21-day pregnancy rates for dairy cows. These improvements have been the result of increased genetic selection for fertility traits, refined reproductive management programs, improved cow comfort and facilities management, and redefined nutritional programs for dry and lactating dairy cows.

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It has been estimated that economic losses related to heat stress in production animals could account for as much as $900 million annually. With this type of financial loss, it is not surprising that dairy producers and their consultants are continually trying to incorporate strategies and management techniques to minimize the negative effects of heat stress.

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Researchers have developed many management protocols and technologies that can be used to increase efficiencies of production on the dairy. One of these tools is advanced reproductive technologies.

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Last November marked the 20th anniversary of the first publication on Ovsynch by J.R. Pursley, M.O. Mee and M.C. Wiltbank. It has been cited in 1,161 journal articles since. That article, in Theriogenology, introduced the idea that ovulation could be synchronized in an eight-hour period to potentially allow for acceptable fertility following fixed-time A.I. in dairy cows.

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It has been 20 years since the Ovsynch program was released to the industry. Since then, a lot has been learned about improving fertility, and 21-day pregnancy rates have increased from 14 percent to more than 30 percent.

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Correct time of insemination is important to ensure conception but also to make sure the embryo has the best conditions to survive long term. An old oocyte has higher probabilities of early embryonic death, and if we breed too early, the sperm may die before the oocyte is ready to be fertilized.

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