Ask the Vet

Solutions, Not Obstacles

Stop looking for reasons it can't work, and find a way to get onto a controlled breeding season. (Progressive Farmer photo by Becky Mills)
Question:

We have five good heifers we would like to keep for replacements, but we don't have a place to keep them away from the bull. Isn't there a shot our veterinarian can give to postpone them coming into heat?

Answer:

Many years ago, I was at a dairy doing a monthly reproductive herd check when the owner asked me if I had read a certain book. I told him I was so busy I didn't have time to read. He told me he didn't either; he listened to books on tape. I told him audio books were expensive; he told me he checked them out at the library. I told him I did not have a cassette player in my truck; he told me he didn't either. I noticed he had headphones around his neck and a Walkman on his hip. The book he asked about is long forgotten, but the lesson I learned that day has lasted more than 30 years. We often create obstacles that really are not there.

Your obstacle isn't your heifers and when they come into heat as much as what you are doing with your bull in what should be his off-season. Find a way to remove him from your herd. Not only does this prevent those replacements from getting bred, it allows for a controlled calving season.

Specific to your question, I know of no approved, available, safe, long-term way to suppress estrus in heifers. Prostaglandins, including Lutalyse and Estrumate, can terminate pregnancy in the first three to four months. But, this might need to be done several times. Keep in mind, later-term-induced abortions can often lead to retained placentas, and this could decrease subsequent fertility.

(SK)