Synchronization Programs - Do they really work?

by Darol Dickinson

Prostaglandins are an extremely popular product for use in A.I. programs. Common names for these products include Lutalyse, Estrumate and Bovilene. These products are injectable solutions that range in price from $2 to $6 per injection. Prostaglandins are effective in regressing the corpus luteum in females past day five of the estrous cycle. Many times they speed up the normal cycle and prove to be very profitable.

In the last few years, as we see higher and higher prices for the very highest quality Texas Longhorns, more and more people are beginning to artificially inseminate quality cattle. With very few exceptions, the highest quality bulls in the breed are available in frozen semen. This tool makes it possible so that any producer of Texas Longhorns anywhere in the country can purchase semen on the very top bulls. This allows the smallest producer to have the same advantage as the most prominent producers who own the good bulls themselves. Any producer can have every calf sired by only the leading proven sires if they A.I.

It is very important for us as a supplier of frozen semen that our clients have good results. In the last year we're having more and more letters from people that have not had good results as a result of synchronization. Here's the scenario: A serious Longhorn producer decides to buy semen on the very top bulls in the breed. They identify a local inseminator who says they are capable of artificially breeding the cows. This may be a veterinarian, it may be a staff person on a large dairy or a person who artificially breeds beef cattle in a very progressive herd. (Most dairies of the United States have a qualified technician who can inseminate cows very professionally.) The owner of the cows communicates with this person and discusses a system that will fit their program. Many A.I. technicians and/or veterinarians are very busy people. They want to do as much work as they can, yet they do not feel they want to dedicate the individual time to carefully inseminate each cow one at a time. The use of synchronization systems at this point appears to be a real time saver. An inseminator presents a plan where all the cows receive a certain regiment of injections to gang their estrous cycles to one specific time on a certain day. Many of the synchronizing products lead us to believe that if cows are given a shot, a high percentage of these cows will be ready to breed and become pregnant at a certain given time so many days after the injection. After reading the labels on these synchronization products, it's very convincing that this system can work. After talking to an inseminator, who may be a very busy fellow, it becomes even more convincing that it will work. The letters we received over the last few years, convince us that many of these programs are designed for convenience and not designed for a high percentage conception. We hear people discuss that they give 20 cows a shot and so many hours later inseminate all 20 cows, then they tell us only three to five of these cows become pregnant. The first thing suspected is the semen was not 100% high quality. This is where we become involved.

This is the DCCI recommendation on inseminating cows: If you use semen purchased from DCCI, and if you use a competent A.I. technician, and if the cows are in good physical condition, and if you follow these steps, there should be a 50% to 80% conception. Inject the cows with a synchronization shot if you want, or observe the cows with some type of 24 hour heat detection identification method. That means a heat patch on the tail or a mount animal that has a chin ball that will mark animals cycling during the night. Only inseminate cows two to eight hours after the end of standing heat. Do not breed any cows unless they have been observed either with a 24 hour method or physically observe the cows standing in heat. Much semen is wasted from inseminations into females that are not "seen" in standing heat. The people who sell synchronization shots and the people who sell frozen semen may profit temporarily by the massive use of their product without a resulting live calf. In the long range, it is important that every producer be profitable, not waste any injections, not waste any semen or any time that could be avoided.

Take this advice and you will not waste very much semen and you will have a high percentage of conception.

If you do not believe my advice is correct, please do not write and complain to me when your cows do not have calves. Do not believe it when someone tells you that nature operates perfectly by a clock. Cows do not cycle by the clock, they do not calve by the clock or the calendar. We wish each of you very high conception rates and a highly successful A.I. season.