Reproductive characteristics of cattle and buffaloes
Age at puberty (months)
Oestrus cycle length (Days)
Oestrus signs duration (hrs
Gestation length ( Days)
Age at first calving (months)
Calving intervals ( Months)
Signs of oestrus in cattle and buffaloes
- Standing to be mounted by other cows
- Attempt to mount other cows
- Stringy mucous hanging from vulva
- Mucus smeared on buttocks
- Increased restlessness
- Drop in milk yield
- Reduced feed intake
- Frequent Bellowing
- Chin resting on cow’s rump by other cows, tail raising
- Vulval oedema
- Frequent urination
Best time for breeding of cattle and buffaloes
- Animal body weight below 250 kgs - not suitable for breeding.
- Animal body weight above 250 kgs - fit for breeding.
- If oestrus signs observed in morning-breed the animal at evening.
- If oestrus signs observed in evening- breed the animal at next day morning.
Importance of pregnancy diagnosis in cattle and buffaloes
- Pregnancy diagnosis should be done after 45-60 days of breeding by qualified veterinary doctor.
- Thisfacilitates optimal feeding and care of pregnant animals in positive animals.
- This provides clear way to breed the animal in next oestrus in negative animals.
Knowing the reproductive status of dairy animals
- 18 hours (an average of 12-30 hours) of oestrus signs—Normal
- Less than 12 hours / absence of oestrus signs-abnormal (anoestrus)
- Failure to detect oestrus signs.
- Suboestrus, weak or silent oestrus.
- A low plane of nutrition- lack of energy and protein, deficiency of minerals namely P, Co, Fe, Cu, I, Mn and Vitamin A
- Failure to recognize that an animal is pregnant.
- Anoestrus due to uterine pathology such as pyometra, mummified foetus, foetal maceration, mucometra and hydrometra and
- Insufficient hormonal stimuli.
- Unobserved oestrum may be due to managerial deficiencies and short period of oestrus.
- The dairy animals should be observed for heat signs at least three times a day.
- Wall charts, breeding wheels, herd monitors and individual cow records may be used for identify the oestrus.
- Teaser bulls (vasectomized or by applying apron) are useful in identifying heat in large number of animals especially buffalo cows.
- Provision of adequate lighting to improve oestrus detection.
- Silent / weak / Suboestrus are most common in buffalo cows and common in post partum period. In this cyclical changes in the genital organs occurs but the signs of heat are not exhibited or not observed. This requires rectal examination by qualified veterinary doctor.
- Extra feeding of a concentrate mixture or grains like maize, Cholam, kambu. Etc., and at least small amount of green fodder along with other roughages.
- Mineral mixture should be properly supplemented
- After breeding the animals should be checked for pregnancy within 45-60 days by qualified veterinary doctor.
- Uterine pathology and hormonal stimuli should be handled by qualified veterinary doctor.
- Animal always in oestrus signs / sexually aggressive-abnormal (Bullers)
- Development of single or multiple anovulatory follicles, on one or both ovaries.
- Hereditary, high protein diet, postpartum uterine infection and high milk production may predispose this condition.
- This animals also exhibit upward displacement of coccygeal vertebrae known as “ Sterility Hump”
- In this condition prolonged period accept riding of another cow and frequent attempts to mount on other cows popularly known as “Bullers”.
- This condition needs rectal examination of ovaries by qualified veterinary doctor.
- Prognosis is good in early cases and poor in long standing cases.
- Consult with nearest qualified veterinary doctor
- Oestrus cycle at 18-21 days interval- Normal
- Oestrus cycle at less than 18 days interval- Abnormal (Short cycle)
- Oestrus cycle at more than 21 days interval- Abnormal (Long cycle)
- Animal conceived within three services- Normal
- Animal not conceived for more than three services- Abnormal (Repeat breeders)
- Due to deficient luteinizing hormone release, delayed ovulation or failure of ovulation may leads to fertilization failure.
- Defective ovum or ageing of ovum may leads to fertilization failure.
- Inability of the sperm to fertilize a viable ovum.
- Inability of gametes to reach one another.
- The organisms Trichomonas fetus, Campylobacter fetus, Brucella abortus and IBR-IPV which may cause early embryonic death.
- Deficiency of Selenium and Vitamin E may cause early embryonic death.
- Long period of feeding estrogenic forages may affect the embryo survival.
- Environmental stress during first week after breeding may lead to early embryonic death.
- Bring the animal into positive nutritive balance.
- Mineral mixture supplementation should be done to breeding animals.
- Do Artificial Insemination twice at each oestrus preferably at 12 or 24 hrs intervals.
- Skipping of AI and intrauterine infusions may be considered for uterine pathology.
- Diseased bulls should not be allowed for breeding.
- By avoiding diseased breeding bulls the pathogenic organisms causing abortion may be controlled.
Infertility in cattle – causes and treatment
Infertility in cattle accounts for major economic losses in dairy farming and dairy industry in India. Maintaining an infertile animal is an economic burden and in most countries such animals are driven to slaughterhouses.
In cattle, nearly 10-30 per cent of lactations may be affected by infertility and reproductive disorders. To attain good fertility or high calving rate both the male and female animals should be well fed and free from diseases.
Reasons for infertility
The causes of infertility are many and can be complex. Infertility or failure to conceive and give birth to a young one can be due to malnutrition, infections, congenital defects, management errors and ovulatory or hormonal imbalances in the female.
Both cows and buffaloes have the sexual cycle (oestrus) once in 18-21 days for 18-24 hours. But in buffaloes, the cycle is silent posing a big problem to the farmers. The farmers should closely monitor the animals 4-5 times from early morning to late night. Poor heat deduction can cause increased levels of infertility. Considerable skill is needed to deduct the animals in heat for visible signs. Farmers who maintain good records and spend more time watching the animals obtain better results.
Tips to avoid infertility
- Breeding should be done during the oestrus period.
- Animals that do not show oestrus or do not come to cycle should be checked and treated.
- Deworming once in 6 months should be done for worm infestations to maintain the health status of the animals. A small investment in periodic deworming can bring greater gains in dairying.
- Cattle should be fed with a well balanced diet with energy, protein, minerals and vitamin supplements. This helps in increased conception rate, healthy pregnancy, safe parturition, low incidence of infections and a healthy calf.
- Care of young female calves with good nutrition helps them to attain puberty in time with an optimum body weight of 230-250 kgs, suitable for breeding and thereby better conception.
- Feeding adequate quantity of green fodder during pregnancy will avoid blindness in newborn calves and retention of placenta (after birth).
- In natural service, breeding history of the bull is very important to avoid congenital defects and infections.
- Infections of the uterus can be largely avoided by having cows served and calved under hygienic conditions.
- After 60-90 days of insemination, the animals should be checked for confirmed pregnancy by qualified veterinarians.
- When conception occurs, the female enters a period of anestrus (not exhibiting regular oestrus cycles) during pregnancy. The gestation (pregnancy) period for cow is about 285 days and for buffaloes, 300 days.
- Unwarranted stress and transportation should be avoided during the last stages of pregnancy.
- The pregnant animal should be housed away from the general herd for better feeding management and parturition care.
- Pregnant animals should be drained of their milk two months before delivery and given adequate nutrition and exercise. This helps in improving the health of the mother, delivery of a healthy calf with average birth weight, low incidence of diseases and early return of sexual cycle.
- Breeding can be started within four months or 120 days after delivery to achieve the goal of one calf per year for economic and profitable dairy farming, according to them.
For more information, contact
Dr. T. Senthilkumar, Directorate of Extension Education, TANUVAS,
Chennai - 600 051, Tamil Nadu, Phone: 044-25551586,