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Physiology and Reproduction
  1. Understanding Reproduction
  2. Managing Reproductive Disorders

Managing Reproductive Disorders in Dairy Cows

Presented at ND Dairy Cow College, February 2000.

Paul M. Fricke
Department of Dairy Science
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1675 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI  53706


Reproductive efficiency is a critical component of a successful dairy operation, whereas reproductive inefficiency is one of the most costly problems facing the dairy industry today. Reproductive disorders occur frequently in lactating dairy cows and can dramatically affect reproductive efficiency in a dairy herd. Some of the most common disorders include ovarian cysts, twinning, and early embryonic loss. These are diverse disorders that are similar in that they all can result in impaired reproductive function. Deciding whether to breed, treat, or cull dairy cows exhibiting one or more of these reproductive disorders is a challenge for both veterinarians and dairy producers. In addition, there is considerable controversy among dairy scientists and bovine practitioners regarding the economic impact of these disorders in a dairy operation and the most effective management or therapeutic intervention for treating these disorders. Because of this controversy, dairy managers should focus on prevention and control of risk factors associated with each disorder rather than on prescriptive therapeutic interventions. Dairy producers should work closely with their herd veterinarian to develop such management strategies and discuss appropriate interventions when necessary.

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