Synchronization Questions, Part 1

Synchronization of beef cows goes hand in hand with AI. The highly researched,  proven, and improved protocols released each year from the Beef Reproduction Task Force and Beef Reproduction Leadership Team have had a highly positive influence on beef cattle AI success.  ABS Global, Inc., strongly believes in the value of synchronization for beef cattle production and profitability, but we also understand and welcome questions regarding protocols, and it also happens that things can go wrong from time to time.

This series of posts are to help answer some of those commonly asked questions and scenarios for the 2013 synchronization protocols.  Starting with general questions today and followed by heifer and cow specific questions.

ABS is pleased to work with Cliff Lamb, Ph.D., Professor & Extension Beef Cattle Specialist North Florida Research & Education Center in the Department of Animal Science, University of Florida.  Cliff also serves on the Beef Reproduction Task Force.  We’ve turned to Cliff to help answer the questions below.  This is a 3-part series and will follow with both heifer and cow specific questions.

Q1.) Is there a problem with vaccinating and putting a CIDR® in the same day?

A.) This is a tough question to answer.  Usually with a killed vaccine there is no issue, but we mostly recommend vaccinations be modified live vaccines because they are more effective.  In this case we generally recommend the vaccination to occur at least three weeks before you inject a PGF injection.  For some reason the vaccine seems to affect the response of the corpus luteum to respond to PGF.  However, there is no negative effect or interaction with a CIDR. 

So, if this question is about the short term protocols then I would suggest that they not vaccinate females at CIDR insertion since the females will be receiving PGF within 10 days. 

Alternatively, if the system used is a 14-day CIDR system (most often used in heifers) then vaccinating at CIDR insertion would be fine.  In fact something I would recommend because it means you can do two things at the same time.

2.) If a CIDR® is lost, would you recommend giving another shot of GnRH and re-inserting CIDR® (as Zoetis suggests), or keeping her with the original synchronization group and breeding at the same time (assume there is no way of knowing whether the CIDR was lost day 1 or day 7)?

A.) I would definitely recommend the later option – just keep her with the original group and TAI her at the same time as the rest of the group.  If the CIDR  is lost sometime during synchronization (which happens in about 1-3% of cases in beef cattle) essentially you have turned the system into the CO-Synch system without a CIDR, so the chances are good that the cow will still be synchronized.  However, if you or the producer have the ability to heat detect – keep an eye on the cow and if she comes into heat before 48 hours after CIDR removal then AI her using the am-pm rule, otherwise just treat her the same as the other cows.

Q3.) If you know what day a CIDR® is lost does it matter what steps you take?  Say between days 1-3 and 3-7? If she loses a CIDR® on day 5 is it better to restart or try following the remaining protocol and breeding?

A.) This may be more work that it is worth; however, if you know which cow lost the CIDR and would like to reinsert the CIDR feel free to do so.  This would be more effective to have the CIDR in place for the last 2 or 3 days of the protocol when the cow may come into heat.

Q4.) Gave both GnRH and Lutalyse® the day I pulled the CIDR.  What is your advice for this situation?

A.) Not much that you can do if GnRH and PGF are given at the same time. My bet is few females will show heat, and if they do they can be bred.   The question is to know when to restart the protocol. I would immediately reinsert the CIDR after they have been cleaned and use the day that the cows received both GnRH and PGF as the first day of the protocol.  That way 7 days after the injections were given you can remove the CIDR and administer PGF alone and continue with your original protocol.  However, you will be delayed by 7 days.

Q5.) Administered GnRH the day of CIDR® removal instead of PGF?

A.) Use exactly the same approach as that expressed in Question #4.

Q 6.) Administered PGF at time of putting CIDR® in instead of GnRH?

A.) This is a common problem and the answer depends on when the error was discovered.

If the error was discovered within four days of administering PGF then go ahead and administer GnRH at that time and leave the CIDR in the cows.  Use this new date as the start of the protocol and remove the CIDR 7 days after the GnRH shot followed by PGF at removal of CIDR.

Very often the error is discovered only when the CIDR is being removed.  In that case the solution is described in Questions #4.

Q 7.) What should I do if at the time of breeding I notice a CIDR® that got left in – PGF still administered per the protocol?

A.) This happens occasionally.  In this case if you are using a TAI system, go ahead and remove the CIDR and inseminate the cow, plus administer GnRH.  There is a chance the cow will become pregnant. An alternative is to remove the CIDR and wait until the cow expresses estrus and then AI her using the AM/PM rule. I would almost always use the first option.

Q 8.) Is there any benefit and/or detriment to inserting a CIDR® after breeding? Won’t it help to keep the female from returning to heat?

A.) The only real benefit of reinserting a CIDR would be to resynchronize cows that did not become pregnant to the AI.  In this case insert the CIDR at 12 to 14 days after AI and remove the CIDR at 19 or 20 days after AI.  About 70 to 80% of the nonpregnant cows will express estrus in 3 days.  Inserting a CIDR at any other time does not help improve pregnancy rates at all!

Q 9.) What kind of results can I expect if I wash and re-use a CIDR® for second application?

A.) The issue with reuse of a CIDR is the potential for enhanced vaginitis (infection in the vagina) or the spread of a disease; therefore it is not recommended to reuse CIDRs.  Some research has indicated that high pressure steam sterilization can effectively sterilize the CIDR and progesterone from the CIDR would effectively provide sufficient progesterone for estrous synchronization.

Q 10.) If I observe a female in standing heat but am planning on fixed TAI for the whole group should I separate the ones showing heat and breed with the AM/PM rule or leave them in the group and AI everything fixed TAI? If I do separate and breed off standing heats is the shot of GnRH still necessary?

A.) If a female is detected in estrus then she may be inseminated using the AM/PM rule for best results.  If the cow is detected in heat and inseminated then there is no reason to administer GnRH to that female. 

Q 11.) Do estrous synchronization “drugs” (all approved) make cattle ineligible for drug free labeling?

A.) It depends on the label.  In some cases these products would not be eligible and in others cases they are eligible.  Producers should do their due diligence if they aim to market their cattle in a drug free program.  It is important to note that the products used for estrous synchronization are essentially similar to what the females naturally produces.  In all cases these products are metabolized fairly quickly and are usually out of the system within a couple of hours.

Q 12.) Do estrous synchronization “drugs” disqualify cattle for all natural and organic programs?

A.) As noted with Questions #10, for natural it depends on the label.  In some cases these products would not be eligible and in others cases they are eligible.  Producers should do their due diligence if they aim to market their cattle in a drug free program. 
For organic, estrous synchronization products usually disqualify females from these programs.

Q 13.) Is there any difference in the name brand variations of synchronization hormones? Cystorelin® vs. OvaCyst® and Lutalyse® vs. Estrumate® for example.

A.) Regardless of whether it is GnRH or PGF, in beef cattle, there has not been a comprehensive study completed to demonstrate that one product is more effective than another.  At this point, the best advice is that producers should utilize the least expensive product.

Q 14.) Which fixed time protocol is the most cost effective for synchronizing large groups without sacrificing conception rates?

A.) This is not an easy question, because all protocols have merits for various reasons.

For cows, the 7-day CO-Synch + CIDR would be the easiest to use and is slightly less expensive than the 5-day CO-Synch system, but pregnancy rates may be slightly lower (about 3 to 5%).  Nonetheless, I would likely lean towards the 7-day CO-Synch system.

For heifers, the 14-day CIDR protocol is the protocol that would likely be preferred, but in some cases the MGA-PGF system may be less expensive with good pregnancy results.

Do you have a specific heifer or cow synchronization question you want Cliff to answer? Post your question to the comments section of this blog and we’ll try include them in the later posts.

You can view the 2013 Synchronization Protocols here.

GIVEAWAY! –  Subscribe to the blog (found on the right hand side of page) and you will be entered for an ABS GIVEAWAY!

References to previous ABS BEEF Blog Post on Synchronization of Beef Cattle found here.

Cliff Lamb, Ph. D , is currently the Assistant Director and Professor at the University of Florida North Florida Research and Education Center in Marianna, Florida.  He graduated with a B.S. in Animal Science at Middle Tennessee State University. He received his M.S in 1996 and Ph. D. in 1998 at Kansas State University.  As Assistant Director of the North Florida Research and Education Center he oversees one of the largest beef cattle feed efficiency facilities in the world.  Dr. Lamb oversees a research program that focuses on applied reproductive physiology in beef cattle emphasizing efficient management systems for replacement heifers and postpartum cows. A primary research focus has been on the development of practical and economical estrous synchronization protocols for beef cows and heifers. He has also published numerous research articles on the use of ultrasound technology for reproductive management of beef cattle, and has a strong research background in embryo transfer technologies.  He is author of more than 60 refereed journal articles, 3 chapters in texts, and more than 200 presentations and articles in other scientific and popular press.


15 Responses to Synchronization Questions, Part 1

  1. Owen says:

    Is there any benefit to giving a GnRH shot 7-10 days after finishing the MGA in that protocol?

  2. […] Welcome back.  Today is a continuation of the Beef Cattle Synchronization Q & A with Cliff Lamb, Ph. D., and will focus on heifer specific questions.  You can view Part 1 here. […]

  3. Robert E. Actis says:

    Referring to question number 8, if you put the cidr’s back into the cows you AI’d, 12 days after, and removed 19 days later, you could then catch 70-80 % of cows that did not breed with the first AI??

  4. Corey Ottinger says:

    I recently took a controled group of 80 head of heifers and split the herd into two groups of 40. I applied the 7 day Co-synch – CDR to both groups to see how each pen would respond to the protocol. Both groups were given a ration of free choice blue stem hay as well as protein tubs and daily regulated oat hay. GNRH was administered at day 0, on day 3, six heifers in pen 1 came into standing heat and 7 head in pen 2 exhibited the same. All where AI’d and seperated from the herds. On day 7 the remaining cattle were given PGF. 48 hrs later 30 head in pen 1 came into standing heat and two more exhibited standing heat at 72 hrs and the remaining 2 head were AI’d and given GNRH that did not exhibit heat. In pen 2, 28 head came into standing heat with in 48 hrs and 4 head followed at 72 hrs. The remaining 1 was bred and given GNRH to finish the protocol. The heifers were ultrasounded at 44 days and 66 head were confirmed pregnant giving us an 82% conception. All heats that presented on day 3 became pregnant. All manditory breedings that presented no sings of heat on day 7 did not become pregnant. If I was to apply the CDR to the group would my conception been greater?

  5. […] Cliff Lamb, Ph. D., and will focus on cow specific questions.  Catch up on the series by viewing part 1 and part 2- heifers.  If you still have questions you want to ask Dr. Lamb please still use the […]

  6. David Foutch says:

    I used the 7 day cidr protocol with gnrh at time on inserting cidrs. PG given when cidrs removed. gnrh again at time of AI. What amounts of gnrh and PG should I use. I think I used 2cc gnrh each time and 5 cc PG. I had 75% success rate. Thanks for your help.

  7. How many days after calving should u consider using ai???

  8. Stan says:

    can you leave cidr for 9 days instead 7?

    • ABS Beef says:

      I am assuming that this will be females that are using a fixed-time AI protocol that allows you to AI within 72 hours after CIDR removal. In this case, you should NOT leave the CIDR for 9 days (even 8 days may be a little long), so I would stick to 7 days. The extra time of CIDR insertion will still allow for good synchrony and heat response, but pregnancy rates will be lower.

  9. Heidi says:

    They will be lower because the low concentrations of progesterone (from the CIDR) will keep females out of heat, but may not be sufficient to allow follicle turnover. Therefore, a persistent (aged) follicle forms with an oocyte that has already started developing before the AI occurs resulting in an ovulation that cannot be fertilized. Because we administer GnRH at the initiation of the protocols we initiate a new follicular wave within 2 days of CIDR insertion. Therefore, many of these follicles simply are aged by day 9. Other products may allow follicle waves to start later than GnRH, but those products are not approved for use in the US.

    There is a marginal decrease in pregnancy rates from 7 to 8 days, but by 9 days there is about a 5-7% decrease in pregnancy rates.

  10. Can I simply say what a relief to find someone who really understands what they are talking about on the internet. You certainly understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. A lot more people ought to check this out and understand this side of your story. It’s surprising you’re not more popular because you most certainly possess the gift.

  11. Kevin Anderson says:

    After synchronization and AI when using clean up bulls do I need more bulls per head of cows than normal bull breeding since the cows will be somewhat synchronized their next cycle?

    • ABS Beef says:

      Hi Kevin, great question! You can use about half the bulls you would normally use. We recommend this because we can assume that 50% of your herd should be bred by synchronization.

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