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Angus Journal
Copyright © 2015
Angus Journal

Cost Analysis of Synchronization

by Kasey Brown, associate editor

STILLWATER, Okla. (Oct. 8, 2014) — Pregnancy has a four times greater economic impact than any other production trait. Females that calve earlier in the calving season stay longer in the herd, Cliff Lamb, professor and associate director of animal science at the University of Florida (UF), told attendees of the 2014 Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle (ARSBC) symposium in Stillwater, Okla., Oct. 8-9.

Cliff LambCliff Lamb said a cost analysis of using synchronization and AI at the UF-NFREC indicated the results may be worth the time and effort.

Estrus synchronization and artificial insemination (AI) are ways to get females to calve earlier in the breeding season. However, many cattlemen balk at hassle factors, like complicated protocols and sire selection, facility requirements, labor for AI and administering products, and the time needed.

Lamb said a cost analysis of using synchronization and AI at the UF North Florida Research and Education Center (UF-NFREC) indicates the results may be worth the time and effort.

In a case study using synchronization and AI at the UF-NFREC during the last five years, the center was able to shorten the breeding season by 50 days. By the fifth year, every cow could be bred on the first day of the breeding season. Pregnancy rates have also increased by 8%-10%.

The average calving day in 2006 was Day 79.2; in 2013, it was Day 38.7. The added weight on calves born earlier in the season and the added genetic quality resulted in an added $169 in value per calf in 2013. The herd increased in value by $50,700, he reported.

Lamb presented a second case study summarizing information on 1,700 cows in eight herds. The three herds with the highest pregnancy rates using estrus synchronization had used synchronization protocols for several years, with almost 20% higher pregnancy rates than those that had used synchronization once. Herds with continued use of synchronization had a much tighter distribution in days postpartum.

The impact of fixed-time AI (FTAI) included a 6% increase in weaning rate and 38 pounds (lb.) more weaning weight for FTAI calves vs. calves in the control group. When factoring in increased returns through increased value of AI calves; decreased cost of cleanup bulls; and increased costs through labor, semen and AI supplies, the gain per cow exposed to AI vs. a $3,000 bull is $84.73. He also shared the gain vs. a $6,000 bull was $113.97, and the gain vs. a $10,000 bull was $152.97.

Lamb shared a tool called the AI Cowculator for smart mobile devices that can help cattlemen determine whether AI use or natural service bulls will be more economical in their own situation. It can be downloaded free of charge from the Google Play Store or Apple iTunes.

Lamb spoke during Wednesday afternoon's ARSBC session on the economic impact of reproductive technologies. For more information, visit the Newsroom at to view his PowerPoint, read the proceedings or listen to his presentation.

Comprehensive coverage of the symposium is available online at Compiled by the Angus Journal editorial team, the site is made possible through sponsorship by the Beef Reproduction Task Force.

Editor's Note: This article was written under contract or by staff of the Angus Journal. To request reprint permission and guidelines, contact Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, at 816-383-5270.