Repeat breeding in cattle

Definition of repeat breeder cows

Cows that are cycling normally, with no clinical abnormalities, which have failed to conceive after at least two successive inseminations.

In practice, some will have been inseminated at the wrong time, others may have pathological changes in the bursa or oviduct that are difficult to palpate, or undiagnosed uterine infections.

Clinical picture

Repeat breeders can be divided into two groups:

  1. Early repeats
    Cows that come into heat within 17-24 days after AI.

    In these animals the luteal function has been shorter than normal or typical for the physiological oestrus cycle in non bred cow. In these cows the most probable event is either failure of fertilisation (delayed ovulation, poor semen quality etc.) or early embryonic death (delayed ovulation, poor embryo quality, unfavourable uterine environment, precocious luteolysis)

  2. Late repeats
    Cows that come into heat later than 25 days after AI.

    In these animals the luteal function was maintained for longer than the physiological luteal phase in non bred cows. Fertilisation and initial recognition of pregnancy probably took place but for some reason (inadequate luteal function, inadequate embryo signalling, infectious diseases, induced luteolysis) luteolysis was induced and pregnancy lost.

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Treatment of repeat breeders

Repeat breeders should be carefully evaluated in order to define the most probable reason for the failure to conceive (early repeats) or failure in pregnancy maintenance (early and late repeats).

Initially heat records should be evaluated to classify the cow as early or late repeat.

Then the following decision trees can be adopted:

Click on thumbnail sketch for full sized image of treatment of repeat breeders:

Click here for treatment options in repeat breeders

Click on thumbnail sketch for full sized image of treatment of repeat breeders:

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artificial insemination

Repeat breeders are cows that are cycling normally, with no clinical abnormalities, which have failed to conceive after at least two successive inseminations