Choosing a Synchronization Protocol for Your Herd
Sarah Thorson, Beef Marketing & Education Manager, Genex
The two questions producers ask me most are, "What synchronization protocol is the best?" and "What synchronization protocol will give me the highest conception rate?" No matter how many times I have been asked these questions, I still struggle to find an answer that will satisfy the curiosity of the person asking me the question. The truth is there is no easy, one-size-fitsall answer. There are many studies which may indicate one protocol has a leg-up over another, but in reality the best strategy that will yield the highest results is the one that matches your management style and goals. Let's take a few minutes to examine the points to consider when choosing a synchronization program.
1. Begin With a Healthy Herd
There are a number of things to think about when choosing a synchronization program. First, a synchronization program cannot take the place of adequate nutrition and herd health programs. To get the best results with any synchronization program, the cows must be healthy and regularly exhibiting estrus.
2. Consider Your Resources
You will need to consider what resources are available and how much of these resources you are willing to devote to a synchronization program. Consider points such as: how many times are you willing to handle the females throughout the program and how much money are you willing to spend on synchronization products. Some synchronization strategies may require less time, because they utilize timed artificial insemination (A.I.), but they may require a greater input of financial resources due to more injections or the use of EAZI-BREED™ CIDRs®. For some synchronization strategies the financial output may be less, but require a greater investment of time.
3. There Are Differences Between Cows & Heifers
Also think about the group of animals you are going to synchronize. There are different protocols for synchronizing heifers and cows. Generally you can't use a heifer program on cows and expect good results and vice versa. This is because many synchronization protocols, especially those that involve timed A.I., do not synchronize heat but instead synchronize ovulation. They do this by altering the follicular wave pattern of the females being synchronized. In general, cows have two follicular wave patterns during the course of their estrous cycle and heifers have three. A cow protocol (designed for a two follicular wave animal) will not have correctly timed injection and breeding times to accommodate a heifer (a three follicular wave animal).
4. Heat Detection Versus Timed A.I.
Heat detection gives many people trouble when it comes to getting cows pregnant. Breeding cows that were misidentified as being in heat and missing cows that are actually in heat can significantly decrease the number of females that become pregnant following a synchronization program.
While heat detection is not a very difficult job, it is often not given the attention needed to result in a successful reproduction program. If you choose a synchronization protocol that involves heat detection make sure the person responsible for heat detection understands how important their role is to the overall success of the synchronization program. In addition, the individual needs to be familiar with both the primary and secondary signs of heat. Consider using a heat detection aid such as Reveal™ Tail Paint or Estrotect™ to make heat detection easier.
FYI - Most synchronization protocols for cows involve timed A.I. in lieu of heat detection, while most heifer protocols include at least some heat detection. Generally, cows are more difficult to catch in heat than heifers, have fewer instances of standing heat and show fewer secondary signs of heat.
5. Don't Set Yourself Up For Failure
After choosing the synchronization protocol you will use, it is important to develop standard operating procedures. Consider who will give the injections, the time of day the injections will be given, what days of the week injections are administered, who will conduct heat detection and when, and finally, who is responsible for deciding which females will be enrolled into the program.
Noncompliance to synchronization protocols is probably the number one reason why synchronization programs fail. The investment of time and money in a synchronization protocol is significant, so make certain everyone involved understands the importance of the right cow getting the right shot on the right day.
Without standard operating procedures, results can easily be below par. For instance, an average protocol compliance of 80 percent accuracy for each of the three shots in the Ovsynch® program is only expected to synchronize 51 percent of the animals (0.80 x 0.80 x 0.80 = 0.512). If the accuracy of each shot is 95 percent, still only 86 percent of the animals are expected to be synchronized correctly.
6. Choose a Program That Suits Your Situation
Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all program when it comes to synchronization. Just because a program works well for your neighbor does not necessarily mean it will work well for you. How a synchronization protocol aligns with your goals and resources is far more important than what works for others.
In conclusion, no one can tell you what synchronization protocol is right for you based on university research or an article in an industry publication. However, your local Genex representatives are equipped with the knowledge and tools to help you make the best decision based on your individual herd goals. Once you have chosen a program, they can help you implement the program so you can achieve the best results.
For more on improving your herd's reproductive performance, read "How Realistic is a 25 Percent Pregnancy Rate". Learn how three different herds have used these guidelines to achieve outstanding reproductive performance in their own herds.
Need a review of the estrous cycle and the effects of a timed A.I. program? Read the article "Tricking the Estrous Cycle." Go to genex.crinet.com/page2842/TrickingTheEstrousCycle.