Monday, February 4, 2013

Make Heat Detection Count!

DHIA records indicate that the level of detected heats is about 50%.  This means that one out of every two heats routinely goes unnoticed.  Here are a couple of tips to make sure that heat detection is being performed correctly on your farm or ranch.

  1. Know the signs of heat!
Standing to be mounted is the primary sign of heat, but secondary signs of heat can include:  riding other cows, bellowing or bawling, displaying signs of nervousness, sniffing the vulva or urine of other animals, having a pink and swollen vulva with a clear mucous discharge, having a rough tail head, chin rubbing, or they seem to be searching for something.

  1. Take the time to accurately detect heat and only detect heat!
People who are in charge of heat detection need to make heat detection their only priority when it comes time for heat detection.  They should position themselves in “hotspots” in the pen.  “Hotspots” are places where there is good footing where cows will gather to show mounting activity.  The observer should be positioned in a place where the cow’s id is easy to read.  Heat detection should occur 2-3 times per day for at least 20 minutes.

  1. Heat detect at the right time!
Research indicates that more than 70% of the mounting activity takes place between 7:00 at night and 7:00 in the morning.  Factors such as high temperature, humidity, wind, and rain tend to inhibit the expression of heat during midday hours.  The moral of the story, you should make sure that out of the 2-3 times you heat detect each day, one should be in the late evening hours and one should be in the early morning hours.  This will ensure that you are heat detecting at the times when you are likely to see the most cows in heat.

While nothing replaces actually seeing and identifying the cow in heat Genex offers several heat detection aids to help simplify heat detection.  These heat detection aids include DETAIL™ Tail Paint, Kamar® Heatmount Detectors, EstroTects™ and PaintStiks.  

The newest heat detection aids available through Genex are DeLaval Activity Systems.  Because cows in heat tend to have activity levels of 2.5-3 times their average day, activity systems are a good option as a heat detection aid.  Also, since reduced daily activity may indicate health issues; these activity systems also have benefits from a herd health stand point.  The system's ability to detect estrus early and accurately facilitates timely artificial insemination and helps lower reproduction costs by reducing days open and services per conception. The activity system even detects weak heat signs, the so-called "silent heats."

 Written by:  Sarah Thorson
Beef Education Manager