This article was written by Kalyn Waters, former SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist.
Sometimes it seems there is nothing simple about synchronization protocols used for artificial insemination (AI). However it is critical that they are followed EXACTLY to ensure that producers have a successful AI breeding season. Below is a list of five tips to help get the ball rolling for a successful breeding season.
- Each year protocols are set forth by the Beef Reproductive Task Force. These protocols are backed by peer reviewed scientific research and only approved to be included in the list once they are proven. Thus, straying from the set forth protocols is a risky move. Heifer protocols are designed for heifers, and cow protocols for cows and should only be used that way.
- When picking which protocol to use within your herd keep in mind the labor, cost, and facilities needed for each of the protocols will differ. In addition the number of times the cows/heifers will be worked through the chute will also differ for each protocol.
- Producers must choose between a straight Fixed-Time AI (TAI) protocol, the combination of heat detection and TAI, or just heat detection alone. Before making this decision producers must evaluate their breeding crew and facilities. Do you have enough skilled AI technicians to breed the entire synchronized group of cows/heifers in one breeding session (TAI), or would it be best to have multiple breeding’s sessions? What about working pens for heat detection and sorting?
- Determine the cycling status of your herd prior to synchronization. Taking time to evaluate if the cows are cycling following calving and if the heifers are pubertal will help in picking the most effective protocol for your herd. The use of progestins in synchronization protocols can help “jump start” females that have not started cycling yet. While this will only aid a female that is near puberty, or close to resuming estrous following their postpartum anestrus period, choosing a protocol with a CIDR® or using MGA® (heifers only) can have benefits.
- Synchronization does not compensate for management! Prior to the beginning of breeding season taking a step back and evaluating the status of a herd is critical. Cows/heifers should be in good body condition (See Understanding the Importance of Your Herd's Energy Reserves), they should be disease free, exhibiting estrus, on a good plane of nutrition that can be maintained throughout the breeding season, and overall healthy before entering an AI program.
Choosing the right synchronization protocol for a herd is something that should be evaluated on an individual herd basis and done with the advice of someone who is experienced and understands the protocols. While this is just one rung on the latter to a successful AI breeding season it is an important one that deserved time and consideration.
For more information, contact: