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Copyright © 2015
Angus Journal

Importance of Reproductive Tract Scoring

Reproductive tract scoring is a management practice for replacement heifers.

by Katy Kemp for Angus Journal®

STILLWATER, Okla. (Oct. 9, 2014) — As producers focus on heifer retention, management practices such as reproductive tract scoring (RTS) can help assess future fertility in replacement females, said Brit Boehmer, graduate student at Oklahoma State University, presenting for Dan Stein at the 2014 Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle (ARSBC) symposium hosted in Stillwater, Okla., Oct. 8-9.

Brit Boehmer Brit Boehmer, graduate student at Oklahoma State University, says heifers need to reach puberty at least six to 10 weeks before breeding.

An increase in market value for replacement females has also increased the economic losses when females are culled too soon because of reproductive failure associated with infertility, advised Boehmer.

Very few producers know the pubertal status of heifers before purchase or at the start of the breeding season, said Boehmer. Many select replacement females based on age or weight, but the heaviest heifers may not have started cycling. Heifers need to reach puberty at least six to 10 weeks before breeding, added Boehmer.

To eliminate guesswork, RTS is a management practice to assist producers in identifying cycling replacement females and pubertal status before breeding season. Potential replacement heifers can receive RTS scores ranging from 1 to 5, with 1 indicating no palpable follicles (immature), and 5 indicating the presence of a corpus luteum (CL, sexually mature).

Boehmer suggested prebreeding examinations, including RTS, should be performed 30-60 days prior to breeding. Heifers receiving an RTS of 1 should be culled. Further research indicates heifers assigned RTS of 1 or 2 experienced longer days to become pregnant, decreasing their lifetime production value in the herd. Additionally, heifers with higher RTS became pregnant earlier in the breeding season to both artificial insemination (AI) and natural service.

RTS is a management tool to help identify increased fertility and lifetime productivity of heifers.

“Research suggests there is a positive correlation between RTS and pregnancy rates with a 50-day AI season, as well reproductive success in the subsequent breeding season,” said Boehmer.

Boehmer presented during Thursday’s ARSBC session focused on replacement-heifer development. Visit the Newsroom at to view his PowerPoint or listen to the 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.