News and knowhow for farmers

Tackling Infertility in Cattle Through Proper Feeding & Hormonal Inducement

Hormonal inducement and proper feeding are key in dealing with false infertility, which causes delayed production cycles in dairy cattle resulting in losses.

Mature heifers and lactating cows may fail to show heat signs, which are important in accurate bull or artificial insemination service, and eventual fertilisation process.

Farmers incur costs in keeping the ‘unproductive’ heifer or low yielding lactating cow, which should ideally be served about 85 days after calving.

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Patrick Nyauma, a veterinarian in Kisii, says a productive cow should give a farmer one calf per year and high yields in milk for the agribusiness to make economic sense.


He says biological and management practices can reduce the productivity of cattle. Hormones are the basic drivers of the 21-day oestrus cycle, which is the period that a cell develops into an ovum and moves to the fallopian tube for fertilisation.

Many hormones control reproductive cycle in animals, with progesterone and oestrogen being the major players. 

An animal expert would inject an oestrogen containing remedy to trigger and raise levels of the hormone in the blood stream for the animal to ‘demand service’ the veterinarian said.

“Hormonal imbalance has been detected to be one of the causes of reduced desire for service. The body of an animal behaves directly to the various concentrations of hormones in the blood stream. High or low level signal start of the end of a given process. But prolonged show of heat sign should worry anyone who depends on dairy farming,” he said.

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Oestrus cycle

Cows are on heat between 18 and 24 days of the oestrus cycle. Oestrogen is high in blood while progesterone is low when a cow is on heat. Lactating cows normally have higher levels of progesterone. 

Hormones are chemicals that dictate behavour and response in living things.

Nutritional deficiency can cause dismal secretion of hormones, therefore, the ‘clock’ for various activities will be dormant.Consistent dry feeds also deny animals essential fresh nutrients, aggravating the situation even more, he says.

Synthesis of blood for instance, can be hampered if  feeds do not have enough iron. Anaemic animals have reduced chances of being on heat.

Feeding animals well supplies them with the energy required in fertilisation, pregnancy and calving down, Nyauma said.

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Treatment of uterine and other general infections such as trichominiasis, pyometra and cytic ovarian,  would place the animal at a better chance of being on heat for service.

But heifers may be having permanent infertility, and even after practicing some of the above, it will not yield much. They have to be sold to reduce expenses and give more money to reinvest in the farm, Nyauma says.

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