Reproductive efficiency has been identified as one of the main opportunities to increase herd performance in today’s market.

To achieve a successful reproductive program, cows need to have proper nutrition, be kept free of disease (particularly during the transition period), have a successful heat detection program and be bred using proper techniques.

Sound nutrition and proper management are essential for a successful reproduction program:

1. Watch over the dry cow program
The dry period objectives assure the nutrient requirements of late gestation are met, build the reserves of minerals and vitamins for the subsequent gestation and promote a proper body condition at calving. This prevents dystocia and metabolic problems postpartum which can compromise fertility.

Manage the cow’s body condition score through lactation and, in particular, during the dry period.


2. Maximize DMI postpartum
Due to high nutrient requirements for milk production and low dry matter intake (DMI), fresh cows are in a negative energy balance in this period. Properly balanced diets increase the diet’s nutrient density by supplementing fat and high-quality forages, encouraging DMI and shortening the time the cow is in a negative energy balance.

Monitor DMI, feed availability and feedbunk space, as well as ration physical quality, in the fresh pen.

3. Minimize the incidence of periparturient problems
Nutrition can help in the prevention of transition problems such as hypocalcaemia, metabolic problems, lameness and retained placentas that have a negative impact on cows’ fertility.

Feed properly balanced diets and encourage an increase in DMI. Investigate the use of vitamin E and selenium for dry cows and check for the presence of molds and other contaminants in feeds.

4. Breeding management
Hygiene at calving, heat detection accuracy and proper A.I. timing and techniques are essential for improving reproductive efficiency. Overcrowding and negative social interaction should be managed as they can have a significant impact on DMI and reduce heat detection rates.


• There is an economic advantage to be gained by improving reproductive efficiency in dairy herds.

• Balancing diets for adequate protein, energy, trace minerals and vitamins are fundamental.

• Attention to management in the dry and transition periods prevents the occurrence of periparturient problems that impair reproductive ability. EL

This article topic also appears in Progressive Dairyman . This article has been written specifically for dairy employees. The article in Progressive Dairyman is written for dairy owners and herdsmen.

El Lechero recommends dairy teams read the articles and then discuss how to apply these principles on their own dairies.

Pedro Caramona