How to Tell When Cow is in Heat : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

We have a Dexter cow (and a young steer) whom we milk once a day. The steer has her during the day, is separated at night, and I milk her in the morning. We wish to AI her during her next heat, but I'm having trouble pinpointing when she's ready to service. All the traditional signs, i.e. bellowing, walking the fence, having other cows mount her, etc., are absent. There are no other cows around to mount, she never walks the fence, bellows only occasionally, and just when I think she's licking her vulva or holding her tail out, she stops. We're new to the cow business, so any advice would be very welcome. Thanks!

-- Patrice (, October 26, 1999


Unless her calf is old enough to participate in the process you'll have a lot of trouble detecting heat with only one cow. You didn't state the age of the calf - that would be helpful. First, has a minimum of 6 weeks past since she calved? A nursing cow, especially with a young calf will often have a silent heat - no observable signs. Pulling the calf off the cow for 48 hours will often bring on heat. (No, it won't hurt a calf that is old enough to munch hay or grain and drink water from a trough.) You'll still have the problem of detecting.

I assume you're breeding artificially. I would use a prostaglandin such as Lutalyse. Give a shot (5cc) wait 10 days and give another shot. If you don't see sign of STANDING HEAT (which you won't without another animal around), breed artificially at 80 hours after the second shot. CAUTION - read the paper inside the Lutalyse box. Absorption through the skin can cause abortion in a pregnant human female. It can also screw up a womans insides and render her sterile. Best if a man administers the shots. You can obtain a prostaglandin from your vet. It's about $14.00 for 6 doses.

Here's another idea. Is there a neighboring farm with an open heifer or dry cow that would let you "borrow" her for a month in exchange for feeding her so you could detect standing heat better?

-- JCW (, October 28, 1999.

The cow should be at least 75 days postpartum before she is bred. At this time, the steer calf show be old enough to ride her. When she stands to be ridden, AI her Twelve hours later. If you catch her being ridden in the morning AI her that night. Your AI person should know where to get pressure activated K-mar patches which you glue on the cow with rubber cement. When she is ridden the patch activates and turns bright red. They won't work in pastures where the is brush or powwer poles where the cow can rub. Feel free to e-mail me and I will visit with you more.

-- dave kirschten (, October 29, 1999.

My 75 day old calves don't mount their mothers! Even if they had the instinct to do so they could never reach and activate the patches. As far as when to breed. I watch for the first heat which is a false heat, watch for the second heat which should be a true heat and breed on the third heat, which could be around 63 days.

-- JCW (, October 29, 1999.

I have a question that is related: How do you know when your cow is pregnant without the expense of calling a vet out? Or should I ask : CAN you know? She doesn't seem to go through the "heat" cycle very obviously, and she was with a bull and "did it" at least a couple of times. (pardon the rough language) My neighbor, an experienced cow man,said that that should of done it. I truly hope so as she will more than likely dry up before she is freshened.

-- Patrice Bertke (, October 31, 1999.


As I stated above, without another animal present, observing signs of heat is difficult. There is a blood test you can take (on the farm) as early as the day after breeding. However there is a 10 test minimum purchase from the manufacturer.

If you check her yourself at 4 months you will be able to "dribble" lightly, (of course!) the calf inside the sack. Using a shoulder length glove, enter the rectum. Gradually pushing in a bit and releasing with the animal to release their tension, then push in a bit further and continue until you are nearly shoulder deep, depending on your size and the animals size. You will have to scoop out the waste as you enter if there is a lot in the track. With your hand cupped, palm down and your thumb under your palm you will actually be able to gently dribble the fetus as if it were a basketball. Don't try it any early than 4 months without instruction from your vet or you could damage the fetus.

DRYING UP! Absolutely you want you cow to dry off before she calves. Keep in mind the calf grows 80% in the last 60 days of gestation so your cow needs to be putting her energy towards her new calf instead of milk production. Plus you want the colostrum to come in properly when she freshens.

-- JCW (, November 03, 1999.

I have a Jersey cow I bought the first of Sept. She had calved back on June 28. The man I bought her from said that she bred with a bull on Aug 27. Every three weeks she starts to act weird, like bellows a lot, tries to run away, and her milk production drops a little. There are no other cows around to mount her. Does this mean she is not bred, or is this normal behavior for a bred cow?

-- chicken farmer (, November 28, 1999.

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