Reproductive Goals for Cows

The majority of reproductive losses occur in the following areas:


Reproductive traitsGoal
Calving interval 365-380 days
Avg. days to 1st observed heat Less than 40 days
% cows in heat by 60 days post calving Greater than 90
Avg. days open to 1st breeding 50-60 days
Avg. days open to conception 85-100 days
Services/conception 1.5-1.7
First service conception rate  
A) replacements 65-70%
B) producing females 55-60%
% breeding intervals between 18-24 days Greater than 85%
% cows open greater than 120 days Less than 10%
Dry period length 45-60 days
Avg. age at 1st calving* 24 months
Avg. age at 1st breeding* 15 months
% cows pregnant less than or equal to 3 Al services 90%
% cows pregnant on exam 80-85%
Abortion rate Less than 5%
Cull rate for infertility Less than 10%

*Average age at first breeding and calving may be much higher in case of zebu cattle and buffaloes and more so under field conditions.

Herd reproductive program has a pronounced effect on income. By following a sound record-keeping program and following a few basic principles you can greatly increase net income. Increasing reproductive program will not cost much. It will mainly require a commitment to observe and keep accurate records.

Reproductive efficiency Index

Reproductive efficiency is the ability of a dairy producer to get cows bred back rapidly after calving with a minimum number of breedings per cow. Inefficient reproduction decreases profit by reducing both the efficiency of milk production and the number of available replacement heifers. Also, there may be increased breeding costs and veterinary fees. Breeding records, summarized as a reproductive efficiency index, provide the best indication of breeding problems. More importantly, indexes can give clues as to what the cause of problems might be. Reproductive efficiency indexes are also useful to dairy producers who currently do not have problems getting cows regnant. Trends in these indexes can be used to detect problems as they develop. Steps to correct the problem can be taken before the problem becomes more serious. The index values for a herd should not become pared only to guidelines contained in this fact sheet, but also to index values for the state and/or county in which the herd is located. Such as weather, may make goals more difficult to reach for some producers Consequently, comparing state and county index values to herd values can provide an indication of how good a job a particular producer is doing when compared to neighbors. State and/or county values can usually be obtained from Cooperative Extension Service state specialists or county agents.

The breeding records necessary for calculation of the indexes discussed in this fact sheet are:

  1. Date (month, day, and year) of the most recent calving
  2. Date of the previous calving for second and later lactation cows
  3. Reproductive status  (pregnant, open, and bred but too early to detect pregnancy)
  4. Number of breedings for all cows, and
  5. Date(s) of first breeding and most recent breeding if a cow has been bred more than once.