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23rd February, 2019

Scanning reveals poor reproductive performance in maiden heifers

Visited a client in County Cork who presented a herd of dairy cows and maiden heifers for scanning.  The overall reproductive performance in the dairy herd was average for those herds scanned to date this year.  However, the reproductive performance of the maiden heifers was very poor.  Of 21 heifers scanned, the pregnancy rate to first service was below 30%.  Three of the heifers scanned pregnant were carrying twins which were unilateral indicating a high risk feature of subsequent embryonic death or abortion prior to the completion of gestation.  This feature associated with poor pregnancy rates subsequent to the first service indicates severe underlying stress associated with the impaired reproductive performance.  There is no information in the literature to explain this feature encountered.  It is also interesting to note that the three heifers which were only 250 kgs in weight were pregnant.  The remaining heifers were 350 to 450kgs and were not below the target body weight for the genetic make-up and potential of the animals concerned.