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Hauling After Breeding is Risky

Cattle that are transported a few days after being bred may be at risk for losing the pregnancy.

Some folks who artificially inseminate (AI) their cows or heifers haul them to summer pasture or another location after being bred. It’s important to avoid transport stress during that first week, if possible.

Keith Elkington, a breeder near Idaho Falls, Idaho, says he’s learned to pay attention to timing of hauling.

“We usually synchronize our yearling heifers and breed them AI,” Elkington says. “Studies have shown that if you are going to move them afterward and take them to summer pasture, the best time to move them is in the first 24 hours, or to wait a few weeks.”

The fertilized egg is still in the fallopian tube during the first few days on its way to the uterus to attach. The stress of transport is most risky for the pregnancy a few days after conception when the embryo gets to the uterus and is moving around trying to find a place to attach.

“Even the guys who have bulls with the cows already and then haul them to the hills for pasture have some early pregnancy losses. I’ve talked to several ranchers, and they tell me there’s a certain period of time right in the middle of their calving season when there’s a lull and they stop calving. There are some cows that just didn’t settle on the early breeding because of the stress of traveling, and had to rebreed,” Elkington says.

The experts say that if you are going to move cows in the first 10 days after they are bred, you should do it sooner — within the first couple days — before the fertilized egg gets to the uterus. Elkington said he doesn’t have as good a conception rate on his yearling heifers as he’d like because of the hauling.

“We used to AI them up there in the hills, after they got to summer pasture, and we’d have a 90% conception rate,” he says. “We’d just bring them into the corral up there and give them a shot of Lutalyse and kick them back out, and then bring them back in to AI. [We] had excellent luck.”

Elkington says they don’t have the facilities there anymore, nor the time, so they’ve been AIing in the valley and then moving the bred heifers up to pasture.

“Our conception rate doing this is about 67%,” he shares. “We’d like it to be at least 80%, so this year we want to breed them and just put them back in the pen where they are used to the feed they’ve been getting, leave them there for two weeks and then haul them up, after they are past that risky period. I think the worst risk is at about Day 10, so we will see if keeping them here a little longer helps. We have plenty of hay this year, so we’re going to try taking them a bit later.”

His 2-year-olds that have had their first calf get synchronized, as well. The last few years, he says they have been synchronizing heifers with MGA and the 2-year-olds have been getting CIDR®s. The 2-year-olds have been showing a higher percentage of conception than the yearling heifers.

“I don’t think it has anything to do with the method, so it may be due to the hauling,” he says.

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Editor’s Note: Heather Smith Thomas is a cattlewoman and freelance writer from Salmon, Idaho.







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