Cow Breeding – A Beginners Guide

Cow Breeding.
Cow Breeding.

Cow Breeding For Beginners:

The following content is all about Cow Breeding.

Cow Breeding  – Breeding Management

A dairy farm to be running must always be producing quality milk. And to produce milk, cows must be reproducing healthy calf each year. Reproduction plays an important role in the economics of Dairy Farming or Dairy Production. A healthy cow must calve to produce milk and milk is collected in the lactation period. As soon as the lactation cycle completes the cow must be ready to calve again and this is a regular process of cycle in the dairy industry. This process can be achieved by increasing cattle reproductive efficiency. Without normal reproducing and calving at the proper time, Dairy production won’t be beneficial hence a solid calf every year is the typical objective.

At the end of gestation, cow secretes hormones such as protacin and uterine lactogenic which stimulates the mammary development. After calving, the cow starts to produce milk and days in milk would be between 30 to 150 days. The longer the cows lactate the more the profit she will generate and the dairy farmer has to maximize this lactation days.

Breeding efficiency envelops the capacity to mate, to conceive and reproduce in due time and produce milk. Any break in this leads to failure of the cattle being under productive and unproductive cattle will be burden in the dairy industry.

The efficiency to reproduce is a mind boggling marvel controlled by both hereditary and non-hereditary factors. in cow breeding  A best reproducing program is an essential part of the aggregate cattle production framework. Cow breeding is one the priority dairy management practices that every dairy farmer should go through. Now a Days commercial cow breeding is profitable business and gaining popularity throughout the world. It is not advisable without knowing the cow breeding management, one should start the dairy business.

Cow Breeding – Reproductive Characteristics in Cattle

The following parameters are to determine the reproductive performance of the Dairy Cattle.

Cow Breeding – Cattle Reproductive Details:

ParticularsCow BreedExotic BreedBuffaloes
Age at puberty24 months12-15 months24-30 months
Age at first mating30 months18-20 months30-36 months
Optimum weight at first mating250 kg180-275 kg300-350 kg
Oestrus cycle length17-24 days21±321 days
Duration of oestrus12-18 hours12-18 hours12 -18 hours
Time of ovulation12-16 hour after end of estrus
Optimum time of inseminationMid heat / towards the end of heat
Gestation period280-290 days280 – 290 days305-318 days
Dry period80 -9060 – 7090 – 120
Calving to first heat40 days40 days40 days
Calving to first service60 days or less
Lactation length305
Milk yield in litres1500-20003500-50001500-3000
Birth weight20 -2525-3530-40

Cow Breeding  – General Signs of Estrus in Cattle

There are two ways to find out cattle being in estrus.

  1. Primary Signs: The most accurate sign of cattle being in estrus is when cow comes into standing position to be mounted. In this period, bovines remain to be mounted by different cows. Cows that move away immediately when a mount is attempted are not in genuine estrus. Cattle must be allowed to interact for standing behavior to be expressed. Estrus in cattle lasts about 15 hours a period of time when it is in heat receptive. Sometimes heat duration can range from eight to 24 hours.
  2. Secondary Signs: Cows enter standing heat gradually and prior to this they may seem restless and nervous for instance strolling along the fence line looking for a bull or other cows by standing to be mounted or she mounts on other cows in the farm. These signs may not be related to time of ovulation but signs for a dairy farmer to watch for such specific cow in determining cow are in heat or not. Secondary signs may occur before, during or after standing heat. The other signs include mucus discharge – mucus is produced and strands of mucus hang from the vulva. Swollen vulva – during heat the vulva swells and becomes moist and red. Bellowing – Cows may bellow more frequently by remaining standing and spend less time resting. Roughed up tailhead – hairs on the tailhead and rump is fluffed up. Chin resting and back rubbing, sniffing genitalia, decrease in feed intake and milk yield are some of the signs for cows coming or in estrus period.

Cow Breeding – Best Time for Breeding of Cattle

Cow Mating.
Cow Mating.

Breeding must be done to fit cattle and buffaloes whose body weight is above 250 kilograms and those that are below are not suitable for breeding. If signs of estrus are observed in the morning, breed the animal by evening and if signs are observed in the evening then breed the animal by next day morning.

Cow Breeding  – Pregnancy Diagnosis in Cattle
Rectal palpation is the most conventional way diagnosing pregnancy. This method is being performed through decades where an experienced veterinarian inserts his hand and arm into the rectum of the cow physically feeling the fetus as early as 40 days of gestation. This method is quick, needs no specialized equipment and gives instant results and being economical.

Ultrasound examination is been carried out in recent decade by veterinary clinics. Ultrasound probe is inserted into the rectum for examination of fetus. In this method pregnancy is determined even as early as 28 days of gestation, gender of the fetus, and age of fetus more accurately.

Based on pregnancy diagnosis results a dairy farmer will be able to give optimum care and feed to a pregnant cow. And cows that are negative in pregnancy diagnosis can be prepared for breeding in the next estrus.

Cow Breeding – Knowing the Reproductive Status of Dairy Animals

Cows and heifers come into standing heat every 18 to 24 days on an average 21 days. In this estrus period cows show willingness to mate. The duration of estrus usually will be for 18 hours and may last from 12 to 24 hours on an average which is normal. Any cow that has estrus period less than 12 hours or absence of estrus signs is called anestrus which is abnormal.

Cow Breeding – Reasons in not Detecting Estrus Signs

The possible reasons for not knowing when the cow or heifer came into estrus can be, dairy farmer failed to detect estrus signs. At times the cow goes into silent estrus or weak estrus which is also known as subestrus conditions which goes undetected. A mal-nutrition cow is also one of the reasons for being in subestrus conditions this is because of lack of energy and protein, deficiency of vitamin A, iron, calcium, manganese, copper, and iodine in the diet. Anoestrus happens due to uterine pathology such as pyometra, macerated fetus, fetal mummification, mucometra and hydrometra. Mucometra and Hydrometra are similar with a difference in the degree of hydration of the mucin in the uterus. Fail to recognize a pregnancy in a cow and abnormal hormonal stimuli are some of the reason a dairy farmer fails to recognize estrus in cattle.

Cow BreedingManagerial Skills in Detecting Estrus in Cattle
Unnoticed estrus may be due to short duration of estrus duration period or due to administrative insufficiency. A dairy farmer must observe heat signs in cattle at least three times a day especially in days when cattle enter into estrus cycle or heat cycle. By placing wall charts, breeding wheels, or monitoring individual cow records it will be easy to identify estrus cycle on each cow. Weak or silent estrus or at times subestrus conditions which are common in buffalo cows signs of heat go unnoticed and not exhibited. To identify heat in such cattle a teaser bull can be used to identify or by doing a rectal examination by an experienced veterinarian. Veterinary doctor services can be utilized for checking pregnancy in cattle after breeding within 40 to 60 days, uterine pathology and hormonal stimuli must be done through veterinary specialist.

New Born Calf.
New Born Calf.

Cow Breeding – Cattle Always Exhibiting Estrus Signs

This is a behavioral problem where a cow is in heat status towards other cows in the farm. The cow is mounted by other cows, bringing about poor performance, reduced profits and damage or demise. The cows showing frequent estrus signs or cows are aggressive is an abnormal condition which is termed as bullersteer syndrome.

Cow Breeding – Reasons for Cows Being Aggressive

Development of single or many anovulatory follicleson one or both ovaries because it is inherited, high protein diet, postpartum uterine infection and high milk production may incline this condition. The cattle show sterility hump growth on their back.

Management Measures to Be Taken

This condition needs rectal examination of ovaries by qualified veterinary specialist. Anticipation is good in early cases and poor in long standing cases. Get counsel with a qualified veterinary specialist.

Cow Breeding  – Estrus Cycle in Cattle

Farmer owning female dairy animals must have foreknowledge into her estrous cycle which may be handy for making sense of the purpose for some of her behavior, regardless of whether she’s a first-time mother or matured experienced cow. At the point when dairy animals are in heat, the signs often are noticeable to onlookers.

When female cattle are reproductively developed, and not expecting, they go into heat consistently. Their estrus cycles take about 21 days or on an average 18 to 24 days. A cycle speaks to the time frame between one heat and the next succeeding heat. A cow experiencing estrus cycle between 18 to 21 days interval is normal. When the cycles are less than 18 days and more than 21 days then the cow estrus cycles are abnormal. And cows that conceive within three services are normal and unable to conceive more than three services are abnormal called repeat breeders.

Cow Breeding – Reasons for Uneven Cycles and Repeat Breeders In Cows

Because of insufficient luteinizing hormone discharge, delayed ovulation or failure of ovulation, inadequate ovum or maturing of ovum may lead to fertilization failure. Theinability of a sperm in fertilizes a viable ovum. Inability of gametes to reach one another. The organisms Trichomonas fetus, Campylobacter fetus, Brucellaabortus and IBR-IPV which may cause early embryonic death. Insufficiency of Selenium and Vitamin E may cause early embryonic demise. Long period of feeding estrogenic forages may affect the embryo survival. Natural stress amid first week after breeding may prompt early embryonic death.

Measures to be taken

Bring the animal into positive nutritive diet. Mineral blend supplementation ought to be done to breeding animals. Administer Artificial Insemination (AI) twice at each estrus preferably at 12 or 24 hours interval. Skipping of AI and intrauterine infusions may be considered for uterine pathology. Avoid bulls that are diseased or sickly or weak for breeding. By avoiding diseased breeding bulls the pathogenic organisms causing abortion may be controlled.

Cow Breeding – Infertility in Cattle

Infertility in cattle accounts for major economic losses in dairy farming and dairy industry in India. Maintaining an infertile animal is an economic burden and in most countries such animals are driven to slaughterhouses.In cattle, nearly 10-30 per cent of lactations may be affected by infertility and reproductive disorders. To attain good fertility or high calving rate both the male and female animals should be well fed and free from diseases.

Cow Breeding – Reasons for infertility in Cattles

The reasons for infertility are numerous and can be complex. Infertility or inability to conceive and bring forth a young one can be because of lack of healthy sustenance, contamination, congenital defects, errors in management and ovulatory or hormonal irregular characteristics in the female.

Cow Breeding – Tips to avoid Infertility in Cattle

  • Breeding should be done during the estrus period.
  • Animals that do not show estrus or do not come to cycle should be checked and treated.
  • Deworming once in 6 months should be done for worm infestations to maintain the health status of the animals. A small investment in periodic deworming can bring greater gains in dairying.
  • Cattle should be fed with a well-balanced diet with energy, protein, minerals and vitamin supplements. This helps in increased conception rate, healthy pregnancy, safe parturition, low incidence of infections and a healthy calf.
  • Care of young female calves with good nutrition helps them to attain puberty in time with an optimum body weight of 230-250 kg, suitable for breeding and thereby better conception.
  • Feeding adequate quantity of green fodder during pregnancy will avoid blindness in newborn calves and retention of placenta (after birth).
  • In natural service, breeding history of the bull is very important to avoid congenital defects and infections.
  • Infections of the uterus can be largely avoided by having cows served and calved under hygienic conditions.
  • After 60-90 days of insemination, the animals should be checked for confirmed pregnancy by qualified veterinarians.
  • When conception occurs, the female enters a period of anestrus (not exhibiting regular estrus cycles) during pregnancy. The gestation (pregnancy) period for cow is about 285 days and for buffaloes, 300 days.
  • Unwarranted stress and transportation should be avoided during the last stages of pregnancy.
  • The pregnant animal should be housed away from the general herd for better feeding management and parturition care.
  • Pregnant animals should be drained of their milk two months before delivery and given adequate nutrition and exercise. This helps in improving the health of the mother, delivery of a healthy calf with average birth weight, low incidence of diseases and early return of heat cycle.
  • Breeding can be started within four months or 120 days after delivery to achieve the goal of one calf per year for economic and profitable dairy farming, according to them.

Cow Breeding – Importance of Artificial Insemination in Dairy Farming

Various new reproductive technologies have been executed for enhancing reproductive performances of dairy cattle. Manual sperm injection or Artificial Insemination (AI) is one of the most important reproductive technologies introduced to dairy business farming. Artificial Insemination (AI) is extremely valuable in a nation like India where the accessibility of quality bulls (sires) is insufficient and has turned into the real obstacle in the way of dairy cattle development.

Cow Breeding – What is Artificial Insemination (AI)?

Artificial Insemination is a method where sperms from a healthy bull are collected, processed, stored and manually introduced into female uterus or reproductive tract without mating at the right time for the sole purpose of achieving pregnancy. AI helps in genetic improvement of farm animals in the dairy business. Artificial insemination (AI) is one of the most efficient tools accessible to dairy farmers to improve productivity and profitability of dairy enterprise.

Cow Breeding – Advantages of Artificial Insemination

  • A bull will donate more semen during natural mating while a single sperm is needed to make a pregnancy. In AI, the collected semen can be carried to one farm to another and be used to impregnate all potential females by diluting to make hundreds of semen doses from a single healthy bull in a single ejaculation and can be stored for longer period of time.
  • The possibility of maintaining breeding bulls is not required thereby expenditure on maintenance can be saved.
  • Semen is checked for quality and possible infections and venereal diseases such as contagious abortion, vibriosis unlike in natural mating the risk of transmission of diseases is high.
  • Promotes breeding efficiency.
  • Semen of a top breed bull can be used even after its death.
  • Injuries at the time of mating of animals having variations in body sizes can be avoided.
  • Cows denying to get mounted at the time of estrus can be impregnated easily with AI.
  • Rate of conception in AI is high.
  • Promotes a more consistent uniform calve production in the dairy farm.
  • Helps in maintaining perfect breeding and calving.

Artificial Insemination disadvantages in Cow Breeding.

  • AI has to be administered by well-trained personnel.
  • Takes more time against natural mating.
  • Operator must have proper knowledge in reproduction of dairy animal.
  • Contaminated instruments and tools with unhygienic conditions may lead to failed conception.
  • Propagation without prior checking bull will spread diseases.

Cow Breeding – Repeat Breeding Syndrome in Dairy Cows

One of the major losses in dairy farm is having cows that are repeat breeders. Repeat breeder cows come into regular heat but have problems in conceiving even after successful mating or insemination. Cow that has normal estrus cycle, free from clinical abnormalities and no abnormal vaginal discharge and may be even has calved at least once and yet fails to conceive after three or more artificial insemination. There is a loss on feeding without milk production and reproduction, cost on artificial insemination, treatment and production loss due to late conception.

Cow Breeding – Causes of Repeat Breeding (RB) Syndrome

Some of the important reasons for repeat breeding are

  • Genetics: Chromosomal or genetic abnormalities of parent and those defects that occur because of inbreeding, aged gamete and is mostly prevalent in Jersey and Holstein cross bred cattle in our country.
  • Age: It also plays an important role as it is commonly reported fertility in dairy cows get better after first and second parturition and starts declining from the fourth and fifth.
  • Uterine infection and repeat estrus cycles: Any disorder or defects like uterine infections, metritis, pyometraetc adversely affect embryo causing embryonic death which is one of the major reasons for repeat breeding.
  • Anatomical defects of the genital tract: Any anatomical or functional alterations in the reproductive tract can compel gestational failure and repeat breeding. The perfect atmosphere for oocyte growth, sperm transport, fertilization and implantation will be disturbed.
  • Improper Ovarian Function: Cystic ovarian degeneration (COD) leads to delay in ovulation and anestrus condition which is a cause of repeat breeding in cattle. Luteal inadequacy resulting into progesterone deficiency may provoke repeat breeding syndrome.
  • Nutritional Causes: Underweight animals are more prone to poor conception. Conception is influenced by body weight; balanced feeding with adequate energy, fat, protein, vitamins and minerals can assist in treating anestrus problem.
  • Artificial Insemination: When cows are not inseminated at the accurate time will lead to failure in conception. If a cow comes into heat in the morning then she should be inseminated on the same day evening and if it comes to heat in the evening she should be inseminated by next day morning. It is recommended to give double insemination for higher chances of conceiving but with a gap of 12 to 24 hours after first insemination.

Bottom Line of Cow Breeding: For people who wants to be successful in dairy farm business, they must be aware of cow breeding information.

For  Dairy Management Practices: Read here.

For Dairy Business Question and Answers: Read here.


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