Heat detection

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Joe Boy

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Jan 31, 2007
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I started getting my AI calves on the ground and that made me think about who I would breed my cattle to this year and HEAT DETECTION.

I know we have had post on here before about it, but I would like everyone to contribute.  Do you use commercial detectors?  Do you paint tailheads?  Do you live with the cattle 24/7?  Do you use a Gomer bull?  Do you simply use some type of synchronization program?  What has worked for you?  What has not worked for you?

I have a son of Limited Edition who will be a year old in November and I am thinking about making him a Gomer as I have a few cows that are difficult to tell when they are in heat.  Is such surgery reversible?  (You can tell I have never had one by my questions.)
 

red

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Jan 20, 2007
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LaRue, Ohio
Joe- I use both the patches & good old fashion eye balls. I've found w/ some patches they can rub off w/ the oiler bag. I guess my group is small enough that I can pretty much predict when a cow is coming in heat.
Haven't used a gomer bull but did have one that couldn't figure out which end was the correct one. He came close to being one.

Red
 

REM

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Aug 14, 2007
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SW Minnesota
Joe, I use a combonation of methods.  Visual 4 x a day for 30 min. each time, with 60 cow i catch 50% in heat.  If there are a few really good cows i haven't caught I give them a shot of lutalyse and put a K-mar on.  I still have a problem with the cows that aren't aggressive with their heat signs.
 

ROAD WARRIOR

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I like to use a gomer bull - he works 24/7 and doesn't miss the ones that are hard or next to impossible to catch. Frees up alot of my time!
 

justintime

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Saskatchewan Canada
I think I have used almost every method of heat detection, but now use a combination of heat detection and synchronization. If you have time, your eyeballs are still as good as any method, and you have to watch closely to catch those ones that have quieter heats. A few years ago, I had a terrible time seeing my heifers coming into heat. I mentioned this to a cattleman who had AI'd thousands of head, and he told me to check the heifers at 11pm or better yet midnight. I thought I would try it and was amazed to find some heifers in heat that did not show any signs just before dark or in the early morning. That year in particular, this worked well.
Using a gomer is a good method, but sometimes the gomer catches on to what you are going to do. I have had gomers that have figured out that you will sort the cow away from him, and they actually try to drive the cow away from you when you go to bring the cow  in. The best method of using a gomer I have found was using a cow and giving her a shot of testosterone. Here in Canada, you cannot buy testosterone anymore, probably because they were afraid someone would try to sell it to an athelete.I used to use a cull cow and give a her the testosterone and they would ride everything in sight. It was cheap as well as a bottle of testosterone was only about $10. An injection usually lasted about 12-14 days.Two or three shots would get me through the AI season. I used this method for 4 years and it worked great.It was interesting to see how the testosterone  affected them . The first shot, the gomer simply rode the females in heat, after the second shot the cow would usually start to sound like a bull and would patrol the cows, and after the third shot the cow would show a visible crest developing through their neck, they often would beller and paw dirt.
I now use syncronization on two or three groups each spring. Either I am getting lazy or old.... or both, as I like to get the AI done and the cows off to pastures.
 

CAB

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Corning,Iowa
  Joe Boy, I think that it would be best to get a penal block put in your yearling bull. I bred cows for a neighbor that used this method of making a gomer bull for some years & he got along well. I would sugest starting to research who in your area would be able to put in the block. After you are done AIing you just take the block out and use the bull to clean up. I have never heard of anyone reversing the side winder surgery. Cab
 

knabe

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Hollister, CA
i put a steer in with mine, so tail head gets rubbed and comes off easy if you want to try a second time, it's even more obvious.
the steer will also stay next to the fence, longing to get in the night before they come in.
keep good records about intervals and behaviors.  one of my cows rides and stands, the other only mounts and stands for a little bit.
one of the cows expression totally changes, her ears, the lines on her face, the longing looks, the other one kinda paces.
i also note how the vulva changes and check for discharge.
lots of lovvy signs by the steers prior to standing, and the cows will sit there, but run off if they try and mount.

my check times are
8pm
9pm
10pm
11pm
12 pm
4 am
5 am

then wife takes over
6 am
7 am
8 am

one cow had twins last year, so it took her longer for first heat and i switched her to fall, so i got real clued in to her.










 

chambero

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Texas
We don't have time to do anything but synchronize and heat detect over a couple of days.  We usually breed a handful of cows/heifers each year that we just happen to catch in natural heat when we have them up and they almost always stick on the first try.  So, I agree with those that say waiting on natural heats are best.  We just don't have time to handle it that way.

What we do:

CIDRs + GnRH on Day 1 (i.e. Wed morning)
CIDRs out + Lutalyse on Day 8 (one week later, i.e. Wed morning)
Cattle starting coming in heat on Friday (2 days later).  We breed in the evening.
On Saturday, we breed in the evening everything that didn't show heat on Friday.  Everything on Saturday gets a shot of GnRH at breeding whether they show heat or not.

We use the Estrus Alert patches (scratch-offs).  They let you tell the difference between just rubbing and full-scale riding.  Put them on with a little sale barn tag glue and they can withstand a hurricane.  We accidentally turned a couple out last year with them still on and we had to cut them three months later the next time they were up.

We are right at about 60% success this year (technically 58% as of two days ago and I'll do my final tally this weekend on AI calves born) and were at 64% success last year.  On just pure timed AI we tried without CIDRs a few years ago, we'd run just over 50% success.  

We had 7 cows last year that didn't show heat.  We have two AI calves on the ground out of those cows.  Our vet questions whether non-responders are worth AIing, but we have seemed to be getting just under 50% on those.  Not as good a chance, but not futile either.
 

JSchroeder

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Last year we used one gomer bull on ~30 cows for AI that were half-ass synchronized using just a shot of Lutalyse.  That allows us to concentrate our heat detection time without the expense, effort, or false heats (my opinion and the vet's) that the full co-synch can cause.  It looks like we got 63% stuck right now but that can do nothing but drop.

This year we have three gomer bulls with plans to cycle ~130 cows through the AI process.  We actively searched for docile Jersey bulls each week at the local sale barn.  It took a while but all three of them can be handled easily.

You can buy a $200 Jersey bull and spend $200 getting him cut to make a gomer bull that will sell for $600+.  The only hang up is sitting through enough auctions to find the right kind of bull.
 

DL

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Jan 29, 2007
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Joe Boy - I use a combo
I like the CO Synch + CIDR with time breeding
I like the estrus alert patches, but also use paint
I watch like a hawk, sometimes they go into heat before I get 'em synched and it can be quite subtle or as JIT says at midnight only

I am pretty happy with this years results - have a couple late calving cows that I have to check but everyone else is pregnant (they have to get PG AI because there is no bull!)

I would pretty much consider any gomer procedure permanent - but I don't really know anything about the "penal  block" CAB is talking about

I would disagree a bit with Jeff about his "gentle jersey bulls" as aged jerseys are about the rankest meanest beasts on earth (don't know how long you keep them)  and another hang up with dairy calves is disease, I would particularly worry about Johne's (if you intend to keep him for any time) and BVD as well as the usual resp and GI diarrheal diseases..you can get a lot of disease for $400  (cow).
 

JSchroeder

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Hence the "docile" and not just any old Jersey bull that comes along.  We NEVER buy old gomer bulls that people are selling and there is one gentleman who actually keeps yearlings on hand specifically for this purpose.  Our oldest gomer bull will likely go to the packer in the Spring as I think he'll be an issue after this year.

I'm a bit surprised that you would question the use of a dairy bull as a gomer.  Around here, it's not only common that they are used for that purpose but rare that you find somebody who isn't using a dairy bull as their gomer.  Out of the two-dozen or so bulls I've seen at various vets and breeders there was only one that wasn't a Jersey and that was a Northern guy who brought one down.
 

DL

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JSchroeder said:
Hence the "docile" and not just any old Jersey bull that comes along.  We NEVER buy old gomer bulls that people are selling and there is one gentleman who actually keeps yearlings on hand specifically for this purpose.  Our oldest gomer bull will likely go to the packer in the Spring as I think he'll be an issue after this year.

I'm a bit surprised that you would question the use of a dairy bull as a gomer.  Around here, it's not only common that they are used for that purpose but rare that you find somebody who isn't using a dairy bull as their gomer.  Out of the two-dozen or so bulls I've seen at various vets and breeders there was only one that wasn't a Jersey and that was a Northern guy who brought one down.

I don't remember where you are Jeff but probably TX, OK? Somewhere else we had a discussion about gomers and down there you guys seem to use dairy bulls while up here a lot of guys use Longhorns (minus horns) - must be a regional thing!
 

JSchroeder

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Yup, Texas.  It makes even more sense because the one non-Jersey I referenced was a Longhorn that somebody brought down from up North.
 

CAB

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    Joe Boy, have you had a chance to ask around about the penal block? That takes care of alot of the desease risk and your yearling bull is already acustom to you and your methods of handling cattle. Cab
 

shorthorns r us

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dragon lady said:

I don't remember where you are Jeff but probably TX, OK? Somewhere else we had a discussion about gomers and down there you guys seem to use dairy bulls while up here a lot of guys use Longhorns (minus horns) - must be a regional thing!


longhorns are pretty valuable down here for ropin'.  and you have to say "ropin'" not roping.
 
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