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Technology to enhance breeding success, improve economics

Karen Abbott Published on 29 May 2014

With all the challenges producers face today, finding efficiencies and opportunities to enhance productivity are essential to remain competitive and profitable, and with so many advancements in technology, sometimes the options can seem overwhelming.

There are a few readily available tools that can make a difference to breeding programs without breaking the bank, your back – or your mind for that matter.

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As reproduction is critical to profitability and even viability, using resources as efficiently as possible, enhancing breeding success rates and making better decisions sooner can really make a difference.

As technology continues toward better, smaller, faster and cheaper options, the options can be worth a new look.

When considering the two major areas of opportunity for a herd’s reproductive success, accurate estrus detection and early pregnancy diagnosis, readily available technology can help tremendously.

It goes without saying that the greatest limiting factor to successful fertilization is accurate estrus detection – the two key challenges being to accurately recognize estrus and identifying all possible estrus periods.

Estrus detection aids can offer immediate and accurate identification of cows in estrus, even in the case of “silent heat,” with minimal labour and expense.

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It’s as simple as inserting a probe that measures the electrical resistance of vaginal mucous, determines forthcoming estrus and displays results on a small screen. In addition to detecting the best date to mate, they can also confirm early pregnancy (19 to 23 days following mating). If the animal is not pregnant, the device determines another estrous period.

Furthermore, if you only had a crystal ball to see into the future and help you make the best decisions in the present, that crystal ball would be a portable bovine ultrasound.

Unlike manual palpation, which works by feel alone, ultrasound allows you to actually see inside the animals and will tell you a great deal more, much sooner, for faster, better decisions during pregnancy checks to cull, sell or re-breed and get the most out of your breeding and feeding resources.

Ultrasound is the most accurate option to determine early pregnancy, fetal viability, twins and fetal sex. It confirms pregnancy immediately, can verify fetal sex after just two months of gestation and can be up to 95 percent accurate in twin diagnosis.

Fetal viability (you will see a heartbeat or not) can be confirmed as early as 27 days. Earlier and more accurate pregnancy detection allows for enhanced decision making to re-breed open animals quickly to maximize artificial insemination programs, improve overall fertility rates and reduce overhead costs.

Once expensive, cumbersome and fragile, machines today are practical and cost-effective. It is possible to have extremely durable, portable, lightweight options from $6,000 to $10,000 that are designed for use on the farm.

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FarmTech Solutions does recommend training; trying to self-teach would be challenging and having someone familiar with ultrasound to show you the ropes would be necessary.

Overall advancements make today’s innovations truly better, smaller, faster and more affordable, and can be very effective tools for improving your herd’s reproductive efficiency and overall profitability.  PD

Karen Abbott
Karen Abbott
CEO
FarmTech Solutions

 

 

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