Know Signs of Estrus
Recognizing when your cows are in heat will help any breeding strategy, whether natural or artificial insemination.
Primary Sign, Standing Heat/Estrus:
Standing heat occurs when your cows experience elevated estrogen and low progesterone levels. Penn State Extension says this occurs when “cows stand to be mounted by other cows or move forward slightly with the weight of the mounting cow.” If they move away quickly, they are not really in estrus.
Secondary signs can be detected before, during, or after standing heat. They can also vary in intensity for each animal, which is why careful observation is important (see section below).
According to University of Georgia Extension (UGA), secondary signs include:
- mounting other cows
- clear discharge
- chin resting and rubbing
- swollen/red vulva
- frequent urination
- muddy flanks and ruffled tailhead
- bawling, restlessness, and sniffing behavior
- decreased milk production and going off feed
Detecting heats requires more than just a cursory glance at your herd. UGA recommends “early morning, noon and late evening observations for 20 minutes” in order to observe more than 90% of the heats in your herd. Temperatures can influence your observation times as well. During hot weather, make your observations in the morning and evening when temperatures are more mild. During cold weather, observe during the warmest part of the day (typically midday).
Group Together Cows in Heat
Grouping animals that are displaying signs of heat will make it easier to detect estrus. UGA advises that “herdmates play an important role in a heat detection program...Cows in heat, or cows coming into or going out of heat, make excellent detectors.”
Improve / Maintain Hoof and Leg Health
Proper leg and hoof health is critical for cows in estrus. According to Penn State Extension, “an estrous cow usually stands to be mounted 20 to 55 times during her estrous period.” Sore or weak hooves and legs will make heat detection more difficult; you will likely not see primary or standing heat. They will also struggle with mounting behaviors and the feeding needed to maintain healthy body condition scores.
Nutritional deficiencies interfere with your cows’ ability to produce the keratin and connective tissues in their hooves. As cracks and lesions form, infections can spread. Nutritionists from University of Wisconsin Extension recommend balancing zinc, copper, and selenium (for immune protection) levels for optimal hoof and leg health.
Improve / Maintain Body Condition (BCS)
When nutritional needs are met, your cows’ bodies will have more resources to use for estrus cycling. Sexual behavior decreases and cows can become anestrus (fertility cycle stops) with weight loss and decreasing body condition scores. The most efficient way to maintain BCS is to prioritize rumen health and ensure your animals are absorbing everything they need from their intake.
Offer Minerals for Reproductive Health
Giving your herd access to trace minerals is a simple and effective step to improve fertility rates. Researchers have found that eating trace minerals improves fertility in cows and sperm motility in bulls.
According to Beef Magazine, the trace minerals essential for reproductive performance are:
- Copper- shortens calving intervals and is essential for embryonic survival
- Cobalt- helps energy balance and body condition by improving digestion, supporting metabolism, and synthesizing vitamin B12
- Iodine- iodine deficiencies can lead to fetal failures
- Selenium- selenium deficiencies can cause early embryonic death, retained placentas, weak or silent heats, and cystic ovaries
- Zinc- helps repair a cow’s reproductive tract, gets the body ready to conceive again. Increases sperm motility in bulls
- Manganese- reduces inflammation, helps produce reproductive hormones, and is essential for ovum production
Don’t wait until you notice deficiencies in your herd. Offering an expansive profile of trace minerals year round, and not just seasonally, will help them maintain health BCS during all reproductive stages.
Improve Reproductive Health with Redmond Minerals
After supporting farms for over 50 years, Redmond has heard a lot of amazing feedback from our customers. All our products are harvested from a rich ancient mineral and bentonite clay deposit in central Utah. With an expansive profile of over 60 trace minerals, Redmond can offer your operation the health and productivity needed to get you back to what you love about raising animals.
Offer your animals a mix of our delicious mineral salts and nourishing clay conditioner, and you can provide them with nature’s perfect recipe for reproductive health. If your cows need more of the minerals listed above, try Redmond Selenium 90 mixed with Conditioner to nourish your herd to higher conception rates.
Redmond Minerals can help your herd:
- Maintain positive energy balance and healthy BCS: improve nutrient and energy intake to support reproductive health
- Reduce heat stress: replenish essential electrolytes and avoid mineral deficiencies
- Avoid mineral deficiencies: With over 60 naturally occurring trace minerals, Redmond provides minerals needed to improve hoof health, increase fertility and sperm motility
- Support rumen health: Our conditioner naturally buffers rumen pH, absorbs toxins, improves fiber digestion and nutrient absorption, supports healthy ammonia levels, and nourishes microbe colonies
Here’s what just a couple customers have to say about making the switch to Redmond Minerals:
"With Redmond, my herd’s somatic cell count has dropped and their reproductive efficiency has improved as the first service conception rates have increased.”
- Jay Yardley, UT
“When we feed Redmond to our cows, they have no pink eye, no foot rot, no sick calves, and so few open cows that we don't even preg. check cows anymore.”
- Gene, T Chair Livestock, Gillette WY
Want to learn more about how Redmond Minerals can help your herd’s fertility rates?