Optimizing Conception Rate in Dairy Cattle and Buffaloes

Reproductive efficiency of a female bovine is measured mostly in terms of early attainment of sexual maturity and number of calf crops during her entire life span. Under ideal conditions of management and feeding the animal should reach sexual maturity at an early age (2-1/2- 3 years). The first calf should be produced early and subsequently at every 12 to 14 months interval. The productive and reproductive performances of the rural bovines are much lower than the desired optimal level. This may be due to poor quality of germplasm, poor nutrition and management and lack of knowledge of profitable animal husbandry practices.

The most of animals in rural area reared under grazing, supplementation with wheat bhusa or paddy straw, some time green fodder and occasionally concentrate are feed. These animals are considered to be local or non-descriptive or mixed breed. The main problems of reproduction in these rural bovines are:

  1. Late sexual maturity
  2. Long postpartum oestrus interval, service period and calving interval
  3. Anoestrus due to inactive ovaries and infantile genital organ (true anoestrus) or due to sub active ovaries.
  4. Repeat breeding
  5. Low conception rate
  6. Non adaptation of recommended feeding, breeding and managemental practices lowering reproductive efficiency.
  7. Last and the major problem is improper detection of heat for producing the animals for A. I. resulting in very low conception rate.
  8. Inexperienced inseminator

Crossbreeding or selective breeding through A.I. is the most suitable, economical and time-tested breeding technique for generating higher genetic and production potential. Crossbreeding in indigenous low producing cattle with superior germplasm from exotic bulls influences the genetic potential of the crossbred so born. However, in the field condition the adoption of A. I. is not up to the expected level, as the farmer's education level, land holding and other economic and social factors influences the adaptation of the technique for faster multiplication of superior germ plasm.

Considering the factors affecting the reproductive efficiency in rural cattle and buffaloes, which may be attributed to poor quality of germplasm, poor nutrition and management and to some extent lack of proper animal husbandry practices and traditional misconception could play an important role in improving the reproductive efficiency of rural bovines. The villagers are not much aware as to when their animal should reach puberty and the young growing animals don't get proper attention and are raised on dry fodder and grazing.  Thus the age at puberty should have been attended at 2 to 2.5 years of age is attended as late as 4,5 or 6 years. In this way livestock owner miss at least one crop or two-calf crop in their lifetime.

Calving interval an important reproductive trait, quite high in rural bovines. Longer post-partum fertile oestrus interval (service period) is also a major factor lowering the reproductive performance of rural bovines. In post partum animals, involution of uterus is completed within 40-50 days and they are expected to oestrus after this period. However, involution of uterus is completed at a considerable adequate time, they do not show sign of heat for quite a long period. Possibly suckling, a common practice adopted in the villages enhances the postpartum anoestrus interval. This may be attributed to poor nutrition also. Rural livestock owners do not allow their animals to be served by bull or A.I even after they come to heat after a short period of calving with the misconception that there will be drop in milk yield if the animal conceive during milking phase. Neglecting the feeding of dry animals also poses problems in subsequent settling.

In the light of the above discussion, it could be concluded that the reproductive efficiency of rural bovines, apart from the animal factors, is affected by human factors. To increase the reproductive efficiency of cattle and buffaloes raise by rural environment under traditional animal husbandry practice the farmers are advised to take care of the following aspects.

As the heifers reach the age of 2 years, the farmers should observe the heat symptoms and if even after 30 months of age the heifers have not exhibited heat symptom, they should get examined by a veterinarian (gynecological per rectum) to know the stage of development of genital organ.

  1. All the female calves should be fed properly from the beginning of the birth so that they attain desired body weight and maturity at an early age. The traditional feeding practice should be modified by providing mineral mixture, concentrate and green forages.
  2. Livestock owners should get educated and trained in modern profitable animal husbandry practices, especially feeding, management and care of growing calves and heifers. They should also be trained to keep record to see that the calving interval does not exceed 15 months.
  3. After parturition if animals has not come to heat up to 2 1/2 to 3 months the veterinarian should be called for checkup of the cows and buffaloes.
  4. History of the previous calving such as retained placenta, dystocia, metritis etc. should be properly maintained and provided to the veterinarian at the time of examination of the animals.
  5. No heat should be missed and insemination should be given by trained person and timely to achieve optimum pregnancy result.
  6. Post insemination confirmation of pregnancy at 60 days.

Studies on problems of reproduction are of immense economic importance for the development of livestock industry in India where majorities of bovine are kept as a source of rural livelihood. The rural livestock suffer from major reproductive problems leading to their low productive and reproductive performance. This results in an increased economic burden on the already limited resource of their income. Understanding the reproductive problems and the consequential impact on rural economy, by the scientist and clinician engaged in rural developmental activities.

Many studies have been undertaken on bovine reproduction in the organised farm condition, but still little is known about reproduction of bovines in rural situation which constitute a major proportion of our livestock wealth. Reproduction manifests their impact on production as well as reproductive potentials. Attempts have been made to show the impact of factors like farmers land holding and season on the lifetime reproductive performance of these bovines.

Though the number of reproductive problems are less in rural bovines the following suggestion are to be taken care of. 

  1. Maintenance of general health of the animal from birth by proper de-worming 
  2. Proper record of heat symptoms in animal for breeding.
  3. Proper attention at the time of calving.
  4. Proper attention at the time of calving.
  5. Proper post partum feeding during lactation.
  6. Proper and timely insemination of heifers and cows.