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Herd Navigator™ and reproduction management 1. Reproductive management
insemination are not in heat (O'connor 1993). Failure to detect cows Efficient and profitable reproduction management in a dairy herd that are in heat and breeding cows not in heat result in economic loss requires routine and time-consuming manual heat detection and for the producer because of extended calving intervals and additional proper timing of artificial insemination. Failure to detect heat is a semen expense. Research worldwide points to a loss of appr. 2 € major factor contributing to low fertility. More than half of the heats per open day beyond the voluntary waiting period, which in larger are undetected on dairy farms today because of lack of time used for herds can sum up to large monetary losses. Further, misclassified manual heat detection, and because high yielding cows exhibit weak reproduction failures result in inappropriate cul ings. Therefore, poor and short lasting heat signs (Figure 1). heat detection is costly to the producer and should be considered the critical component of reproductive management.
Figure 1.
The more time spent on manual heat detection, the higher the heat detection rate (Eerdenburg, 2008), but in modern dairy production there is often little time to perform manual heat detection. Therefore, systems to monitor heat related behaviour have been developed (activity and combined activity/picture recognition systems). The major issue with these systems is the inferior sensitivity, because some cows do not show increased activity at the time of heat. Also, cows not in heat may show activity, despite no heat or because they are already pregnant.
Other solutions are to perform cowside tests for progesterone in focus cows. The problems with cowside tests are the work load incurred at milking, where farmers would like to concentrate on milking, and also the scarcity of test results. Further, manual heat detection Figure 1. High producing dairy cows show short and low activity heats (Lopez et al., 2004) and cowside tests of progesterone wil not ful y encompass heat detection, and not take in consideration other reproductive events as In addition, research based on levels of the hormone progesterone ovarial cysts, Post Partum Anoestrus, confirmation of pregnancy and in milk shows that up to 15 percent of the cattle presented for detection of abortions.
2. Herd Navigator™ and reproductive management
Right after a heat the model will ask for samples on appr. day 5, 9 The basic model layout is shown in figure 4. The model is driven External Oestrus Detection can either be manual recording of a heat The Herd Navigator™ concept differs greatly from traditional and 14 in order to evaluate if the cow has become pregnant or has by the progesterone concentrations which are smoothed in order or activity meter input. The input will make the model perform a new reproduction management, where the detection of heats depends developed a follicular cyst (see section 5). Further, the model will ask to take away natural biologically based occurrence of "noise" from run to either confirm the observation or to reject the information. on visual observations and/or activity meters, and the diagnosis for frequent samples after day 18 in the heat cycle in order to find the the progesterone measurements. A number of manual inputs to the Manual pregnancy determination can also be made. The outputs of other reproductive events depend on rectal examinations. The model will assist in keeping track of the cows' reproductive status. from the model are shown on the right side of the model, and will reproduction cycle in the dairy cow is controlled by a number of In particular breeding data are essential, and therefore strict data be described in detail below. The testing of the reproduction model The reproduction model assumes the cow to be in one of hormones, which control the development and release of an egg management is important, and any event, in particular breeding showed a heat detection rate of more than 95 %.
three states (see figure 3). After calving the cow will have low every 21 days.
should be reported to the herd management system immediately. concentrations of progesterone, until she resumes cyclicity at 20-30 The Herd Navigator™ takes milk samples for analysis of the days after calving. This is status 0, Post Partum Anoestrus. Once the reproductive hormone progesterone, which is produced in the first ovulation happens, progesterone concentrations will increase, Figure 4.
structure called the Corpus Luteum in the ovaries. The Corpus Luteum and the model will change to status 1, cycling, and will begin to look is developed soon after a heat, where an oocyte (egg) is released for the next heat. Once this has been detected, the status of the cow Days to Next Sample from the ovary. The corpus luteum will produce increasing amounts changes to status 2, potentially pregnant (even if there is no AI). If on of progesterone after the heat. In cows that have not been bred the day 5 after the heat the model learns that the cow was not bred, the production will cease at around 19 days after the latest heat, and a model will switch back to status 1. If the cow was bred, the model new heat will appear. In pregnant cows the production of progesterone will assess the probability of a prospective pregnancy.
will continue in order to maintain the pregnancy (figure 2).
(postppartum anoestrus) - Risk of Prolonged Anoestrus - Days to Next Sampling Figure 2.
Figure 3.
(oestrus cycling) - Risk of Luteal Cysts - Risk of Follicular Cysts - Oestrus- Likelihood of Successful AI- Timing of AI - Days to Next Sampling Days from Calving Days from oestrus (potentially pregnant) Figure 2. Milk progesterone concentrations before and after oestrus (day Figure 3. The three states of reproduction of the cow. Status=0 is the Likelihood of Being Pregnant 0) for cows which did (solid line, filled squares) or did not (stiplled line, Days to Next Sampling post partum anoestrus period. When the cow moved to status=1 the open circles) conceive at that oestrus. (Friggens et al., 2007).
cow has commenced cyclicity, and in Status=2 the cow is potentially pregnant.From here she can either stay in status=2 because she is pregnant, or fall back to Status=1.
Herd Navigator™ will take milk samples for progesterone analyses Figure 4. Overview of the model to predict reproductive status. to the progesterone input. Inputs and outputs are circled. The arrow at varying intervals during the heat cycle, with particular emphasis With Herd Navigator™, the sampling schedule will start 20 days The biological module with components for each of the three leaving "days to next sample" indicates that this value is fed back to on the period up to a new heat event. The model will not be able to before the end of the Voluntary Waiting Period, in order for the model reproductive Statuses is shown within the stippled box, the statistical the milk sampling software.
pick up the first heat event in early lactation, where progesterone to assess the present state of the cow.
module generating smoothed progesterone values is shown adjacent concentrations will go from very low concentrations and then rise. This heat is not used by the farmer, but the model will now know that the heat took place and look for the next heat around 21 days later.

One should be aware that cows are biologically different creatures. 4. Heat detection
5. Follicular cyst alarms
6. Luteal cyst alarms
Some cows will exhibit heat signs where the progesterone Once progesterone concentrations have dropped below 5 ng/ml, In some cows the heat event will be followed by continuing low In some cows in early lactation, the normal regression of the corpus concentration is not very low. This can be seen from figure 5. In the reproduction model will issue a heat alarm. At the same time concentrations of progesterone (happening in an average of 15 % luteum doesn't take place as expected at the end of a heat cycle these cases, Herd Navigator™ will not issue a heat alarm. If the the model will also issue a Likelihood of successful insemination of heats), indicating that there was no ovulation taking place (figure (figure 8). This happens in approximately 5 % of the cows. This heat has been observed, a look at the progesterone curve will (0-100%). This figure has been computed in the model on the basis 7). The majority of these cows will not exhibit clinical signs of the means that the persistent corpus luteum produces high amounts acknowledge the observation. On the other hand, an observed of maximum progesterone concentration in previous cycle, previous follicular cyst, and hence being classified as "silent heat cows" in of progesterone, and the progesterone curve stays high. The heat where there is no drop in progesterone can be rejected. These cycle length, oocyte quality and uterine environment. A likelihood traditional herd management. With Herd Navigator™, these cows will reproduction model expects a new heat 21 days after the latest heat, observations typically occur in cows that were bred in the previous below 10 % is a non-productive heat, and the cow should not be be detected, and a risk value higher than 90 % (default risk value and if progesterone is still high on day 25, the model will issue a heat, and are now pregnant. These cows should not be inseminated.
for an alarm) will appear on day 10 after the heat alarm, allowing luteal cyst alarm.
early diagnosis and treatment (hormone treatment that will cause an Based on the experience from test herds, the insemination shall ovulation). Based on the experience from testing, the heat following Figure 8.
Figure 5.
take place 24-36 hours after the heat alarm. A heat alarm occurring the treatment should not be used for breeding, as the conception after the morning milking should result in an insemination the next rate is very low.
day, and a heat alarm after the evening milking should result in an insemination the day after tomorrow. Figure 6 shows the ideal timing In very high producing animals, naturally occurring low values of Lutein cyst period of events around a heat alarm. progesterone can occur in early lactation, and until the daily milk yield drops to less than 40 kg. The chances of conception in these cows are very low, and we advise that the insemination Standard Operating Figure 6.
Procedure (SOP) for these cows should be not to inseminate until milk yield has dropped.
Herd Navigator™ alarm Figure 7.
Ovulation Bleeding Figure 8. Progesterone curve indicating a luteal cyst (DelPro user interface). There is a heat alarm November 20, 2009, followed by a luteal Figure 5. An example of a progesterone profile showing a high cyst. The cow was treated, and a new heat alarm came December 28, progesterone oestrus. In this case the reproduction model will not issue a followed by an insemination.
heat alarm (Friggens et al, 2008).
Sperm life in female tract The luteal cyst is often accompanied by an inflammation of the uterus 3. Start of progesterone measurements
(endometritis). Therefore, these cows should be rectally examined In most herds commencement of breeding will not start immediately Figure 6. Timing of events during a heat. Note that the Herd Navigator™ and treated with luteolytic hormone (pr after calving. This is especially the case in herds with high heat alarm will take place approximately 12 hours before the onset of the If Herd Navigator™ issues a luteal cyst alarm in cows that were producing cows, where commencement of cyclicity can occur long standing heat, and hence the proper time of insemination will be 24-36 Figure 7. Progesterone curve indicating a follicular cyst (DelPro bred, the cow should be examined for pregnancy at the earliest after calving. Therefore, in the user interface settings of start of hours later (Redrawn from O'Connor, 1993).
user interface), There is a heat alarm January 5th, followed by low convenience. If the cow is pregnant, the pregnancy should be progesterone measurements can be set manually in order to suit progesterone values: The red triangle indicates a heat alarm, and the blue reported to the system, as this will remove the luteal cyst alarm. the needs of the particular herd. We recommend a start time of diamond indicates an insemination.
This will happen from time to time, either because of a mistimed AI 20 days before the end of the Voluntary Waiting Period, in order to or late reporting of the insemination, or due to a slow development have the reproduction model pick up the status of the cows before in progesterone, which makes the reproduction model assume that the first breeding. Further, a Standard Operations Procedure (SOP) the chance of a pregnancy is low. We advise that in case of a luteal can be built in the user interface, allowing for herd specific rules of cyst alarm after breeding, the cow should be manually checked for insemination, based on Days from Calving and actual daily milk yield pregnancy. In the herd management system, filters are available to (see section 10).
sort potentially pregnant cows from luteal cyst cows.

7. Post Partum Anoestrus alarms
8. Pregnancy attentions
10. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for insemination
Dairy cows are expected to resume cyclicity 20-30 days after calving. In cows that were bred, the reproductive model will follow the In the modern dairy herd the voluntary waiting period may depend If the progesterone measurements start at day 40 after calving, the development in progesterone. If at day 30 after breeding the on lactation number and the present milk yield of cows. The first Post Partum Anoestrus alarm will be issued on day 50, allowing progesterone concentration is high, the model will assume that the lactation curve is very flat, which makes it less important to breed time for the model to recognize the development in progesterone cow is pregnant, and issue a pregnancy attention.
cows early in lactation. Further, the very high milk yield in early (figure 9). In some cases progesterone concentration might be low The system will now follow the cow for additional 25 days to lactation is compromising normal ovarial function. Therefore, many in the first measurement days because the cow is in the middle of a check for pregnancy. During this period, 95 % of all cases of early Herd Navigator™ users chose to develop SOPs that takes into heat period, and hence the alarm would be inappropriate. embryonic death and abortions will have taken place, and the cow is consideration these factors. In the user interface one can develop most certainly pregnant (Forar et al., 1996).
SOPs suited for the herd policies for breeding. In case a heat alarm doesn't meet the criteria for an insemination it will be shown, but Figure 9.
If the user suspects or observes an abortion after this time, and the there will be no "insemination" instruction with the alarm. In figure 10 cow is still in the measurement window (typically 40-240 days after is shown a typical example of an insemination SOP.
calving), the system will restart progesterone measurements on the cow, in order to prepare for a rebreeding.
Figure 10.
9. Early Embryonic Loss/Abortion alarms
In some cases (10-20 %) a pregnant cow will loose the embryo
and revert to heat. The majority of these events happens around
day 30 in pregnancy and can be caused by a number of factors, including mistimed insemination and a no-viable foetus. In traditional reproductive management these events will be classified as "prolonged heat cycles", i.e. heats in the period 25-35 days since the Figure 9. An example of a Post Partum Anoestrus cow. The cow is supposed to commence cyclicity, but still up to 70 days after calving The Herd Navigator™ will detect these events and issue an Early there is no increase in progesterone concentrations. At 70 days after Embryonic Loss or Abortion alarm, in order for the user to know calving the first ovulation took place, and the cow became cyclic.
that the cow was pregnant, but lost the foetus. The experience from Herd Navigator™ herds shows that the heat coming right after Likelihood of success such an event should not be used for breeding, as the chances for at Insemination > 40% conception are low (around 15 %).
In case of a Post Partum Anoestrus alarm the cow should be examined at the earliest convenience to determine whether she is Inseminate 24-48 hours after alarm not cycling or to determine if a follicular cyst is causing the alarm. In case of a true Post Partum Anoestrus very little can be done except waiting for the animal to commence cyclicity, and any attempts to breed the animal upon heat activity is non-productive.
Figure 10. Example of a reproduction SOP. The SOP takes into consideration days in milk and the likelihood of success for insemination. The SOP can be developed in the user interface.
• Eerdenburg, F.J.C.M. 2008. Oestrus detection i n dairy cattle - How to beat a bull. Veterinary Quarterly. Vol. 30, Supp. 1.
• Forar, A.L., J.M. Gay, D.D. Hancock & C.C. Gay. 1996. Fetal loss frequency in ten Holstein dairy herds. Theriogenology, 45, 1505-1513. • Friggens, N.C. & M.G.G. Chagunda. 2005. Prediction of the reproductive status of cattle on the basis of milk progesterone measures: model description. Theriogenology 64, • Friggens, N.C.; M. Bjerring, C. Ridder, S. Højsgaard & T. Larsen. 2008. Improved Detection of Reproductive Status in Dairy Cows Using Milk Progesterone • Measurements. Reprod. Dom. Anim. 43 (Suppl. 2), 113–121.
• Lopez, H., LD Satter and MC Wiltbank. 2004. Relationship between level of milk production and estrous behaviour of lactating dairy cows. Animal Reproduction Sci. • O'Connor, M.L. 1993. Heat Detection and Timing of Insemination for Cattle. Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. Extension Circular 402, 19 pp. S & M. Trinderup ( 2010): [Delevopment of monitors for digestive and metabolic disorders]. Report from Agrotech A/S, Udkærsvej 15, DK-8200 Århus N., Denmark, 22 pp.
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