7 July 1995

Embryo loss prevention

UK DAIRY producers could save a third of the £300m lost each year through early embryo loss, according to Nottingham Universitys Prof Eric Lamming. He claimed 28% of cows that conceived lost their embryos after day 25.

He has spent the past five years researching fertility in dairy cattle and believes it is possible to pinpoint infertile cows, including those prone to early embryo loss.

"Some 30% of cows in every herd will be less fertile than their contemporaries and need identifying for treatment, while the remainder can be used to breed replacements. Never contemplate breeding a bull from a sub-fertile cow," he warned.

Prof Lamming said to identify less fertile cows producers would need to expand milk progesterone testing to allow hormone profiles to be measured in the milk. Hormone profiling could give a more accurate idea than observation of whether a cow was cycling, how soon she had ovulated and if her hormone pattern was normal.

He believed high-yielding cows were no less fertile than lower-yielding animals. It was whether the herdsman could meet the stress and nutritional demands of the cow that was critical. &#42