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Range Beef Cow Symposium
December 9 - 11, 2003
Scotts Bluff County Fairgrounds Events Center, Mitchell, NE

New tools for estrus synchronization – costs and benefits
Doug Zalesky, Manager/Research Scientist, San Juan Basin Research Center, CSU

Doug Zalesky, research scientist, shared with producers heat synchronization research using CIDR inserts. The CIDR inserts improved estrous synchrony, creating a tighter window of standing heats and higher pregnancy rates.
Estrus synchronization has become a powerful management tool for beef producers, said Doug Zalesky, a manager and research scientist at the San Juan Basin Research Center, Colorado State University (CSU). Along with the use of artificial insemination (AI), estrus synchronization has contributed to the introduction of new sire genetics and has allowed breeders to control breeding and calving seasons.

While research on synchronization has been done for many years, Zalesky reported that only 3%-5% of beef producers use the technology on an annual basis.

Why isn’t it widely used in the beef industry? "The two top reasons why beef producers don’t utilize synchronization are No.1 — time and labor restraints, and No. 2 — poor results," he told attendees on Day 2 of the 2003 Range Beef Cow Symposium in Mitchell, Neb.

"Because there are so many synchronization protocols available today, understanding what system can be implemented correctly and efficiently within a given production environment when considering AI, and which system would fit your low-cost management strategy, can be very important," Zalesky said.

Zalesky described some of the synchronization technologies that have been developed. He provided an overview of the synchronization products, including prostaglandin (PGF2-alpha); progestins, such as melengestrol acetate (MGA); and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH).

Zalesky estimated the cost per dose of these products as follows: PGF2-alpha, $1.57; GnRH, $2.50; MGA, $0.02 per head per day; and CIDR® (controlled internal drug release) insert, $8.

Recognizing that the costs of these products could vary, Zalesky provided product cost estimates for eight estrus synchronization protocols, along with the conception rates or pregnancy rates obtained using the protocols in research settings (see Table 7 of the proceedings).

"In my personal opinion, we don’t have enough data to make a cost comparison between the different protocols," Zalesky stated, noting there are more costs to synchronization than product costs.

Researchers need to know how much time, how many man-hours, is needed to apply each synchronization protocol in order to have meaningful cost-comparison data, he added.

— by Corinne Patterson

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