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Investigating optimal bull:heifer ratios required for estrus-synchronized heifers


Journal of Animal Science 71(2): 291-297
Investigating optimal bull:heifer ratios required for estrus-synchronized heifers
The objectives of this study were to determine 1) the effect of bull:heifer ratio on reproductive performance and associated costs and returns on heifers in synchronized estrus and 2) the effect of estrus synchronization on reproductive performance and economic variables, in a multiple-sire, pasture breeding situation. Eight hundred yearling beef heifers and 28 mature, sexually experienced beef bulls were allotted to four treatments (two replicates per treatment) at bull:heifer ratios of 2 per 100 (1:50; Treatment 1), 2 per 100 (1:50; Treatment 2), 4 per 100 (1:25; Treatment 3), and 6 per 100 (1:16; Treatment 4). Treatment 1 (control) used nonsynchronized heifers, whereas heifers in Treatments 2, 3, and 4 were synchronized using the 33-d melengestrol acetate (MGA)-prostaglandin F2 alpha (PGF2 alpha) program. Pregnancy results after a 28-d breeding season indicate that there may be a limit to how many estrus-synchronized heifers bulls can impregnate. Treatment 2 showed a 6% decrease (P < .10) in pregnancy rate (77%) compared with Treatment 3 (83%), indicating that the bulls probably were not able to service all the synchronized heifers. Treatments 3 and 4 had similar pregnancy rates (83 and 84%, respectively). Treatment 4 had a 3-d advantage (P < . 01) over Treatment 3 in average day of conception. However, based on economic analysis, Treatment 3 exhibited greater returns. Estrus synchronization failed to provide any advantage in pregnancy rate or day of conception. For unknown reasons, the control, nonsynchronized heifers cycled and conceived as if they were synchronized. Treatment 2 had a 5% decrease in pregnancy rate compared with Treatment 1 (77 vs 82%; P < .10) with no difference in average day of conception. Consequently, Treatment 1 (nonsynchronized) exhibited greater economic returns. Results of this study indicated that the optimal bull:heifer ratio for estrus-synchronized heifers was 1:25. In this study, estrus synchronization failed to provide an advantage in terms of reproductive performance or economic efficiency.


Accession: 002416683

PMID: 8440646



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