By Sandy Johnson, Extension Beef Specialist, Colby
Increasingly producers are taking advantage of the benefits of artificial insemination (AI) made more successful and more convenient to apply with the current protocols available for synchronization of estrus and ovulation. Optimal reproductive performance relies on good year-round management. However, the best managed cows won’t respond if errors are made in implementing a synchronization system. A tool called the Estrus Synchronization Planner was designed to help producers correctly execute synchronization protocols to achieve the best possible response.
The Estrus Synchronization Planner is an Excel based program that steps users through protocol selection based on inputs of the type of cattle, amount of heat detection desired and the breeding date and time. It produces a calendar that shows the specific dates and time of day for the inputs selected. To help get the right product used on the right day and time and correct dose, names of commercially available products can be selected so the calendar includes that information.
For fixed-time AI protocols it is important to only synchronize as many animals as can be inseminated in a 3 to 4-hour time period given the facilities and labor available. The interval between prostaglandin F2α injection and fixed time AI should fall within the time ranges outlined. Failing to plan ahead for the appropriate time interval may result in the optimum time to inseminate occurring during early morning hours.
In addition to the original version of the planner there is now what is called the Multi-Group Synchronization Planner that allows users to plan for as many as 12 groups of females over a 12-month calendar. Groups could be replacement heifers, 2-year olds and mature cows or a heifer development enterprise that might breed different groups of heifers daily or weekly. The synchronization planner will compare costs of various protocols and show cost per AI pregnancy. A detailed supply list can be generated in the multi-group version. For many, the original version will fit their needs but AI technicians, veterinarians, and purebred breeders will appreciate the additional capabilities of the multi-group version.
To use either version you will need a copy of MS Excel or Open Office. The planners can be downloaded at no charge from the Iowa Beef Center. Additional reference materials related to synchronization of estrus and AI can be found here as well. You will also find instructions for downloading and saving your copy in both printed and video formats. A video on how to use each version of the planner is also available. Those familiar with spreadsheets will find they need little instruction to run the original version. The multi-group version has a bit more programming and first-time users will benefit from watching a short video with step-by-step instructions. Before you download the spreadsheet, it will ask for your contact information. This enables you to receive an e-mail message when updates are made to the planner, generally on an annual basis. The current version is Synch 20.3 released in November of 2019. As operating systems and software programs are update, bugs can show up in the program so please let us know if you experience an issue (Garland Dahlke; email@example.com or Sandy Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Producers can take advantage of high value, high accuracy sires to meet breeding objectives through the use of AI. Estrus synchronization facilitates precise scheduling of AI programs and helps group calving towards the beginning of the breeding season for either AI or natural service sires. The Estrus Synchronization Planner is a great tool to use in the application of these valuable technologies.