Page 1

HORIZONS Beef Edition

Spring 2018

New Photos 1AN01425 BASIN RAINMAKER 4404

RAINMAKER 4404 Reg#: 17913751


CEDAR WIND 6000 Reg#: 18590751


RELIABULL Reg#: 18215436


SCALE HOUSE Reg#: 17354047



Reg#: 2854454


Spring 2018 Vol. 22/No. 1 Published bi-annually for GENEX members and customers


ADDRESS CORRESPONDENCE Genex Cooperative, Inc. P.O. Box 469, Shawano, WI 54166 888.333.1783


BOARD OF DIRECTORS John Ruedinger, President Van Dyne, WI, 920.922.9899 Bobby Robertson, 1st Vice President Tahlequah, OK, 918.822.0020 Harold House, 2nd Vice President Nokesville, VA, 571.722.3356



Ronald Totten, Secretary Stafford, NY, 585.344.0758 Jon Wayne Danielson Cadott, WI, 715.289.3860 Patrick Dugan Casa Grande, AZ, 520.251.6455 Terry Frost Roundup, MT, 406.323.3415 Israel Handy St. Johnsville, NY, 518.568.5476 Lamar Gockley Mohnton, PA, 717.283.5586 Kay Olson-Martz Friendship, WI, 608.564.7359 Jody Schaap Woodstock, MN, 507.215.2257 Daniel Tetreault Champlain, NY, 518.298.8690

CONTENTS 04 Without Change, There is

No Progress 05 In the News Delegate Election Cycle to Change Member-owners Elected to GENEX Board

06 CRI, GENEX and AgSource Boards

Approve Plan of Merger 08 In the News Gilbert Retires, Pendergrast Celebrates 50 Years

10 Spring Specials 13 The Importance of

Synchronization Compliance 14 Don’t Let the Numbers Overwhelm You! 16 New Acquisitions 20 Understanding the Effects of Stress

on Embryonic Mortality in Cattle

Bill Zimmerman Foley, MN, 320.355.2191

HORIZONS STAFF Lindsay Johnson, Editor, Andy Graf, Graphic Designer

REPRINTS Material may not be reproduced in any fashion without permission from GENEX. Genex Cooperative, Inc. agents or employees, cannot and do not guarantee the conception rate, quality or productivity to be obtained in connection with the use of their products or recommended techniques. THEY MAKE NO WA R R A N T I E S O F A N Y K I N D W H AT S O E V E R E X P R E S S E D O R IMPLIED WHICH E X TENDS BE YOND THE DESCRIP TION OF THE PRODUC TS A ND HEREBY DISCL A IM A L L WA RR A NTIES OF MERCHANTABILIT Y AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICUL AR PURPOSE. In the unlikely event that any of the products shall be proven to be defective, damages resulting from their use shall be limited to their purchase price.

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE GENEX is the trusted provider of world-class animal genetics, progressive reproductive solutions, value-added products and innovative services to members and customers.

Without Change, There is No Progress By: Huub te Plate, COO

“Embrace change for the purpose of progress.”

After 27 years of travelling the globe in international A.I. sales, I am privileged to now serve as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of GENEX. It has been just six months since I became COO, but I have already a wealth of new experiences. Among those experiences were the fall delegate input meetings. This past October and November, we held eight meetings spread all over the country. Nearly 100 GENEX delegates attended one of these meetings to hear an update on their cooperative and provide input for the future. Then, I gathered with those delegates again at the GENEX annual meeting in January. At those meetings and today, there are many exciting changes to report on at GENEX. Just like your operation, we do not sit still. Instead, we embrace change for the purpose of progress. With customizable genetic and reproductive service plans available, GENEX continues to meet the needs and goals of individual cattle producers. From corrective mating and sire recommendations to A.I., heat detection, synchronization, on‑farm data analysis and complete reproductive consulting, GENEX professionals develop unique programs to best fit each specific beef operation.

Huub te Plate began his career at Holland Genetics, before joining Cooperative Resources International (CRI) in 2000. During his tenure at CRI, he managed the marketing of GENEX cattle genetics through a network of distributors and owned businesses in more than 70 countries before becoming GENEX COO in August 2017.




Recently GENEX launched a global branding initiative. For the first time, all dairy and beef producers around the globe will know and refer to this organization as GENEX (customers outside the U.S. were previously served by the International Division of our parent company, Cooperative Resources International).

At GENEX, we live and breathe the cornerstones of our brand, as they reflect our overall purpose. These cornerstones – Comprehensive, Resourceful, Relevant and Forward Thinking – are exemplified in the recent announcement of plans to pursue a merger between CRI and Koepon Holding (see page 6). Another example of how we are willing to change to continue progress. There are many details of the merger yet to be resolved. When finalized, and if approved by CRI delegates, the plan would result in a unique structure that will allow our relevancy, forward thinking and resourcefulness to remain true. This would be one of the first mergers between a cooperative and a private company. It will preserve the cooperative structure and allow us to remain true to our roots. While GENEX will remain the trusted brand you all know, this merger will bundle resources allowing us to accelerate genetic progress. Decisions made now and in the future will continue to be tested against our statement of purpose: GENEX is the trusted provider of world-class animal genetics, progressive reproductive solutions, value-added products and innovative services to members and customers. Whether the merger is finalized or not, there are a lot of changes coming that will accelerate progress. The merger would elevate GENEX progress to a whole new level. This makes me both excited and a touch nervous at the same time; we are entering untested waters. But, this is not the first time your cooperative has led change, and it will not be the last time. Remember, without change no progress is made. 

Delegate Election Cycle to Change Based on delegate input, the board of directors is changing the annual membership qualification period and delegate election timeframe. Starting this year, the membership qualification period will be May 1 through April 30. For example, to qualify as a member in 2018, a U.S. customer must spend at least $500 on GENEX semen, products and/ or services between May 1, 2017 and April 30, 2018. In addition, the customer needs to have submitted membership agreement to GENEX. Starting this year, delegate nominations will take place each June. Delegate elections will be held in July. Only those who qualify as a member can self-nominate and be elected as a delegate. The current delegates and alternates (elected in December 2016) will serve through the 2018 annual meeting and until the next elections are held this July. 

Member-owners Elected to GENEX Board

GENEX delegates re-elected four cattle producers to new three-year terms. The elections took place at the GENEX annual meeting held Jan. 24 in Bloomington, Minnesota. Re-elected to the 13-member board were Bobby Robertson, Tahlequah, Oklahoma; Ronald Totten, Stafford, New York; Jon Wayne Danielson, Cadott, Wisconsin; and Terry Frost, Roundup, Montana. Following the annual meeting, the GENEX board elected officers. Directors holding officer positions for 2018 include:

John Ruedinger, Van Dyne, Wisconsin, president Bobby Robertson, Tahlequah, Oklahoma, first vice president Harold House, Nokesville, Virginia, second vice president Ronald Totten, Stafford, New York, secretary 

Utilize Push™ calf nutritional paste to jumpstart calves following birth or other times associated with low energy.

Give Push™ paste to a calf when: Not consuming colostrum immediately following birth First calf heifers take longer to allow the calf to nurse Born in harsh weather conditions Recovering from hard pull or C-section Recovering from disease or infection Not consuming adequate feed and acting lethargic Transported over some distance, has become less alert and seems depressed Scouring, not eating and losing weight. In this situation also use an electrolyte (such as NuLife® Oral Electrolyte)

One Chance. Make It Count.

CRI, GENEX and AgSource Boards

Approve Plan of Merger

On Dec. 15, 2017, CRI and its subsidiaries informed delegates, alternates and employees that the boards of directors had unanimously approved a plan to advance merger discussions with Koepon Holding BV, a Dutch‑based company with businesses similar to CRI. This preceded a general public announcement on Dec. 18. While some GENEX members have been aware of the proposal since then, others may be reading it here for the first time. Discussions between CRI and Koepon (pronounced “Coopon”) were first initiated by the CEOs of both organizations in early 2017. It has been a central topic at regular board meetings in addition to special meetings held to receive updates on progress and to provide input on direction. According to CRI Chairman and GENEX President, John Ruedinger, “Through CRI’s formation and 25-year history, we have been involved in several mergers. This proposal to merge CRI with Koepon has been a more extensive process and has received more thorough discussion and careful analysis at the board level than any we have approached before. As boards of directors, we are confident it is the right direction for our cooperatives and our members.” Koepon Holding consists of enterprises focused on creating value for dairy and beef producers worldwide. Its principle subsidiaries are Alta Genetics and Valley Ag Software. Koepon is a privately-held company owned by the Wijnand Pon family. Wijnand has deep roots in dairy farming and genetics. The family owns five dairy farms in Europe, milking over 3,000 cows. Wijnand’s




daughter, Fanja Pon, is active in the family’s businesses and serves on the board of Koepon. For more information go to The CRI and subsidiary boards and management are confident the vision, culture and philosophy of Koepon is very compatible with CRI. The alliance of Alta Genetics and GENEX businesses will result in a world-leading cattle genetics organization. AgSource and Valley Ag Software hold potential to set a new standard for global dairy information and data services. CRI and Koepon have other businesses, e.g., laboratory testing, livestock marketing and manufacturing operations, that can continue to operate under the new structure. Under the plan, if approved by CRI delegates from GENEX and AgSource, the new organization would be a U.S.‑based Limited Partnership with its corporate headquarters in Wisconsin. GENEX and AgSource would maintain their own independent brands, product lines, sales staff and international distributors. GENEX would continue to compete directly with Alta Genetics. We believe significant savings can be realized through combined programs in product development, animal housing, distribution and many other functions behind the scenes. CRI, AgSource and GENEX will remain cooperatives as part of the new organization. Equity stakes held by CRI in the new company will be assigned to eligible members on the basis of their patronage with the respective subsidiary businesses. Revenue from AgSource and GENEX member sales and services will be distinct and separate from other businesses in the new organization. Retained earnings

and member equity held by AgSource and GENEX at the time of merger will transfer and will remain under authority and control of elected subsidiary and CRI boards. Members will continue to elect delegates, who will elect subsidiary directors as they now do. Subsidiary boards will elect representatives to the CRI board, and to the board of the new organization. Much needs to be done for the merger to be finalized. Business planning and due diligence processes have been initiated. Delegates who attended the CRI annual meeting, Jan. 23-24, in Minneapolis received more information via presentations and caucus discussions. If the process is successful, including management recommendations and board approvals, the formal merger will require the support of two-thirds of CRI voting delegates. We estimate a delegate vote in May 2018. If approved by CRI delegates and Koepon owners, the merger could formally occur by early to mid-summer. From the very beginning, CRI’s focus has been on how to best serve the subsidiary statements of purpose, which in turn fit under the CRI mission: “CRI is the global leader delivering excellence, innovation and value to members and customers as a strong cooperative.” CRI and subsidiary boards and management believe we can fulfill our mission most successfully as part of this merged organization. For more information, contact any member of the GENEX board of directors or GENEX Chief Operating Officer Huub te Plate. 




Gilbert Retires After 40 Years of Service Glen Gilbert retired from GENEX on Dec. 31. As Mike Kaproth, Vice President of Laboratories and Production Technologies, states, “Throughout his career, Glen made a tremendous impact on the cooperative. He helped lead the way for where GENEX is today.” Glen spent all of his 40 years in the Production Division for GENEX and predecessors, paving the way to ensure top-notch semen production. For most of his career, he worked under the title of Vice President of Production. His ability

to adapt and push for excellence led GENEX to the forefront of bovine genetics suppliers. Glen contributed much dedication and precision to bring producers the high-quality product they expect today. When he began his career with the cooperative, Glen worked as an administrative assistant in the production division of Midwest Breeders Cooperative. Glen’s hard work, accuracy and hunger to improve quickly earned him the leadership role he retired from.

Glen announced his retirement plans earlier this year. In July, Kristi Fiedler, previously the GENEX Associate Vice President of Technical Services, filled the role of Vice President of Production. With this transition, Glen served in a mentorship role up until his retirement. 

Pendergrast Celebrates 50 Years of Providing Service

Throughout this time, he’s seen many changes from ampules to straws and the innovation of sexed semen. A highlight of his career was working on the Lutalyse® trial many years ago; 115 heifers from a herd in his service area were used in this trial. “I became an early proponent of synchronization due to my first-hand experience with that trial,” states Gary. “Synchronization was a gamechanger for the A.I. industry. I can breed so many more in one day than “Gary has been with GENEX and predecessors I even dreamed of 50 years ago.” through many changes over the last 50 years,” commented Tammy Wallace, GENEX Territory Sales Manager. “We are extremely proud of his achievements and never wavering dedication to his customers.”




Over the years, he’s kept meticulous records of every breeding he’s ever done. In total, 71,000 cows and one

buffalo make the list. “One buffalo?” you ask. Gary says he’s agreed to every A.I. project anyone has called him for, even when it was a buffalo. Last May, Gary had open heart surgery and received strict doctor’s orders to not breed cows for 90 days. This marked the longest period in his life without breeding cows. Rest assured, he was back on day 90. Gary is a self-proclaimed cattle engineer and thoroughly enjoys his work. “By far, the best part of this industry is working with the people,” states Gary. “And as long as I’m able, I’ll continue to breed cows.” And with a smile, he adds, “I think I should be good for another 20 years.” Gary, thank you for your dedication to the A.I. industry. 

Photo by Ruthi Pendergrast.

It all started with Midwest Breeders and the magic wand, and 50 years later Gary Pendergrast of Polo, Missouri, is still providing artificial insemination (A.I.) service.

A Step Ahead

in Foot Scores



Claw Set Foot Angle

Reg#: 17016597

.26 .68

.37 .66


Claw Set Foot Angle

Reg#: 17633839

.41 .64

.44 .62


Claw Set Foot Angle

.43 .50


Claw Set Foot Angle

Reg#: 16899059

.48 .50

Reg#: 16858775

.41 .42

.45 .40

Claw Set Foot Angle

Reg#: 17467126

.47 .59

.34 .58


Claw Set Foot Angle

Reg#: 15832750

.42 .59

.48 .56







Special ends May 31, 2018 Reg#: 43092364 Regular $25


Special $20


Reg#: 3721545

Regular $30


Special $25


Reg#: 2703910

Regular $30

1CH00970 LUNCH

Special prices can be combined with Volume Special. Utilize with the John Deere Financial beef deferral program offering 180Â days with no interest and no payments.




Reg#: M883161


Special $25


Regular $25

Reg#: 43214415

Special $20

Regular $25

Special $20


Reg#: 3471552

Regular $20

Special $17


Reg#: 3111909

Regular $25

Special $20



Reg#: 17016597

Regular $40


Special $35


Reg#: 17991528

Regular $25

Regular $25

Regular $22


Special $20


Reg#: 18215493

Reg#: 16983331

Special $20

Reg#: 18434747

Special $18


Regular $25

Special $20


Reg#: 17888696

Regular $25

Special $18




The Importance of Synchronization Compliance By: Sarah Thorson, Beef Marketing & Education Manager

Female nutrition, working facilities and even the weather can have a significant impact on the success of a synchronization program. While some of those factors can be controlled by the producer, others cannot. One of the biggest factors in determining the success of a synchronization program, however, can be controlled entirely by you. That factor is compliance.


How can you ensure synchronization compliance on your ranch?

The first step is to choose a synchronization protocol that is proven to work. Each year the Beef Reproduction Task Force reviews new research regarding female fertility and synchronization and publishes a list of recommended synchronization protocols. The recommended protocols can be found in each edition of the Beef Genetic Management Guide. In short, the Beef Reproduction Task Force does the research so you don’t have to.

When choosing a protocol for your ranch, also ask yourself the following questions: How many times am I willing to put the female through the chute? How much am I willing to spend on synchronization drugs? What are my expectations for results? Choosing a protocol that aligns with your goals and expectations can help set the tone for compliance throughout the program.


The next step is to follow the chosen protocol. Synchronization compliance means the right cow gets the right shot (or CIDR insertion/ removal, MGA, etc.) on the right day or at the right hour. Therefore, when planning your synchronization project be sure to avoid dates and times that do not work in your schedule. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, put your rain poncho or Carhartts® on and keep going with the protocol.

Following the chosen protocol also means utilizing proper dosage and handling of the synchronization drugs. If the GnRH needs to be refrigerated, make sure to store it under proper temperature conditions. Ensure the administered dosage is what is recommended by the drug manufacturer. The GnRH and PGF2∞, CIDRs and/or MGA is needed for the project and make sure to have enough on hand. I recommend having a few extra doses of everything on hand in case of emergencies.


The final step in synchronization compliance is to educate everyone who will be helping with the synchronization project. If all your employees understand why each step of the program is important and why timing is crucial to its success, then there will be more buy-in and employees will take ownership of the program. Non-compliance to a synchronization protocol is one of the biggest reasons why synchronization fails. However, by taking the time to choose a protocol that aligns with your goals, properly following the protocol and educating all involved, you can attain a significant boost in conception rates.  HORIZONS



Don’t Let the Numbers

Overwhelm You! By: Marty Ropp, CEO, Allied Genetic Resources




The genetics that perform best the most often have above average EPDs. The ones that fail to deliver value get below average EPDs.

It is that simple.

Numbers, numbers, numbers. Sorting through all the available genetic data can be cumbersome. However, good, quality information is crucial for decision-making. It’s crucial for improving both the genetic foundation of this $150 billon beef industry and each producers’ bottom line. Therefore, we must get past all the noise and rely on highquality, third-party-verified genetic data. Here are some simple tips to simplify your data use. The oldest form of information is the raw (or adjusted) measured, collected and reported data, such as a weaning weight. This data and its proper reporting in contemporary groups has been around for 50+ years. It’s the foundation for all performance improvement programs. As technology has progressed, however, it is now of little or no value in decision-making. One measurement on one day at one ranch just doesn’t tell us much about the genetics. Do the right thing and just cross out raw weights. Ratios are also very common. Ratios are simply comparisons of raw data within a specified group and herd. This comparative data is important in the creation of EPDs but, again, is of almost zero value when searching for great genetics. You have better tools to consider so cross out ratios too.

Now, we’ve eliminated single herd measurements and confusing ratios (perhaps with the exception of scrotal circumference or the like). By ignoring actual birth and weaning weights, individual rib eye measurements, etc., the clutter is greatly reduced. What’s left are trait and index EPDs, which are predictors of profit. These are not as hocus pocus as some might suggest. Instead, they simply take all the information ever collected and report and summarize them for producers. All the weights and measures are included, but instead of one measurement on one day at one ranch, they include every producer’s experience with those genetics. By definition, they are a true, unbiased summary of what everyone reports as being “good cattle or bad cattle.” The genetics that perform best the most often have above average EPDs. The ones that fail to deliver value get below average EPDs. It is that simple. So, if you really want to improve weaning weights, use the Weaning Weight EPD. If you really want to improve marbling, use the Marbling EPD. Obviously, with advanced DNA technologies, EPDs are more useful and reliable than ever before.

but they all are tools designed to promote selection for long-term profit. Very few people have enough skill, training, expertise or time to work through all the EPDs and form a solid prediction for profit. Index EPDs are designed to do just that. It is not difficult to use EPDs to make progress for highly heritable output (income) traits but selecting for an array of traits that also reduce costs is really difficult without tools like these. Personally, I like choosing the appropriate $Index EPD as a rough sort and then use a few individual EPDs to customize selection for specific customers. More and more folks, however, are simply evaluating index, fitness and convenience traits and then making their decisions. Today, we simply can’t leave genetics to chance. Improvement takes science and information. It doesn’t get much simpler than using $Index EPDs, and more importantly it increases your chances of making better decisions more often. Don’t become overwhelmed by all the numbers; sort genetics using the EPDs that make sense and then choose the bulls that will add value and profit for your future. 

Genetic selection can be further simplified by eliminating most individual EPDs and instead using $Index EPDs. Different breeds have different names for the indexes,







1AN01438 THOMAS JEFFERSON 55602 Reg#: 18590751


V D A R Cedar Wind 8111 x S A V Initiative 4406

Spur Franchise 7070 x A A R Ten X 7008 S A




S A V Regard 4863 x S A V Final Answer 0035




Reg#: 18913003


Reg#: 18359581

Reg#: 18902311

Schiefelbein Attractive 4565 x Schiefelbein Confidence 2433




1AN01445 VDAR LONE PEAK 2157 Reg#: 18785791


Reg#: 18820785

S A V Seedstock 4838 x Connealy Thunder

V D A R Sonny Boy 1194 x V D A R Cedar Wind 8111

1AN01446 VDAR SONNY BOY 1194

272AN06243 KR CASINO 6243


V D A R Hero 7072 x Crook Mt Windy 17

Reg#: 17967159


Reg#: 18624063

CFCC Black Jack 001 x VAR Allegiance 5157







1AR00974 C-BAR BIG RIVER 119E Reg#: 43818822


TH 403A 475Z Pioneer 358C ET x NJW 73S M326 Trust 100W ET

PIE One Of A Kind 352 x C-BAR Contour 107X




Hook’s Black Hawk 50B x GW-WBF Substance 820Y




Reg#: 3253742


LRS A Plus 219A x TNT Dual Focus T249

Reg#: 3791207

Reg#: 3261167

Mounting Evidence

GENEX Reps Recommend ESTROTECT™ Heat Detectors

“Worth its weight in gold!” Ty Jones, Miles City, Montana

An ESTROTECT™ heat detector is like a scratch-off lottery ticket. The top gray layer scratches off easily when the heifer is mounted and ridden so you can tell at a glance if she’s cycling or not. The more scratched off the top layer is, the more she’s been ridden. They save a lot of time and effort compared to standing out there observing heats and writing down tag numbers all day!

“A product that really works!” Chris Larkin, Ottumwa, Iowa

ESTROTECT™ heat detectors make it so easy to go out there and heat detect cattle. I’ve probably used them on my ranch for 10 years, and I advise everyone else I work with to use them as well. Even in timed A.I. programs, if you’re curious about how the synchronization program worked use ESTROTECT™ heat detectors. This is a product that really works.

To learn more, contact your GENEX representative.

Understanding the Effects of Stress on Embryonic Mortality in Cattle

By: Sarah Fields, Graduate Research Assistant in Beef Production, and Dr. George Perry, Beef Reproduction &Â Management Specialist, SDSU Animal & Range Sciences

The number of cows bred during the breeding season plays the largest role in percent calf crop weaned, and percent calf crop weaned is one of the most important factors influencing profitability in beef operations. Furthermore, embryonic loss is the greatest economic loss in the cow/calf industry. Therefore, management decisions should take into account factors that may influence embryonic mortality. Fertilization rates are usually between 90% and 100% when semen is present at the time ovulation occurs. While fertilization usually takes place, conception rates (number of animals that conceive divided by number of animals inseminated) are usually around 70% for natural service or artificial insemination. Although nature (poor oocyte quality, disease, chromosomal abnormalities, etc.) contributes much of this loss,




management practices can also increase embryonic mortality. Stress, particularly heat and shipping stress, can be detrimental to embryos and decrease pregnancy rates.

Embryonic Development In order to understand how stress may increase embryonic mortality, one must first understand the development of the embryo (Table 1). Just like the estrous cycle, embryo development begins on day 0, or the day of standing estrus. This is the day the female is receptive to the male and insemination occurs. Ovulation occurs on day 1 or about 30 hours after the first standing mount (day 0 W Wiltbank et al., 2000). If viable sperm is present, fertilization occurs inside the oviduct shortly after ovulation. The first cell division occurs on day 2, and by day 3 the embryo has reached the 8-cell stage (Shea, 1981). Between days 5 and 6

the embryo migrates into the uterine horn and by day 7 to 8 it forms into a blastocyst (Shea, 1981; Flechon and Renard, 1978; Peters, 1996). At this stage two distinct parts of the embryo can be seen: 1) the inner cell mass, which will form into the fetus and 2) the trophoblast, which will form into the placenta. Between days 9 and 11 the embryo hatches from the zona pellucida, a protective shell that has surrounded the embryo to this point (Shea, 1981; Peters, 1996). Then, on days 15 to 17, the embryo sends a signal to the cow to tell her she is pregnant (Peters, 1996). This is the first signal that the cow gets to know if she is pregnant. The embryo attaches to the uterus beginning on day 19, and around day 25, placentation, an intricate cellular interface between the cow and the calf, begins. By day 42 the embryo has fully attached to the uterus of the cow (Peters, 1996).

Table 1. Time course of early bovine embryo development



Estrus 0 Ovulation 1 Fertilization 1 First cell division 2 8-cell stage 3 Migration to uterus 5-6 Blastocyst 7-8 Hatching 9-11 Maternal recognition 15-17 of pregnancy Attachment to the uterus 19 Adhesion to uterus 21-22 Placentation 25 Definitive attachment of the 42 embryo to the uterus Birth 285

Shipping Stress and Embryonic Mortality

embryo is vulnerable to these changes. These most critical time points are between days 5 and 42 after insemination. Before day 5, the embryo is the oviduct and is not subject to changes in the uterine environment. Therefore, stress does not influence embryo survivability at this time. The greater the length of time after day 42, the less severe the influence of shipping stress on embryonic loss appears to be. At the time of complete attachment of the embryo to the uterus the embryo is supported by the mother and appears to be not as easily affected by changes in its environment. On the other hand, in between these time points (5-42 days), the embryo is at greatest risk. Shipping during this time can cause detrimental changes to the uterine environment and may result in embryonic mortality.

When Should I Not Ship Cows? Shipping cows between days 5 and 42 can be detrimental to embryo survival and cause around a 10% decrease in pregnancy rates (Table 2). Research has also demonstrated that shipping cattle 45 to 60 days after insemination can result in 6% of embryos being lost. Therefore, even shipping cattle 45 to 60 days after insemination may increase embryonic mortality. Critical time points such as blastocyst formation, hatching, maternal recognition of pregnancy, and adhesion to the uterus take place during the time of pregnancy. If any of these time points are disturbed, then the result would lead to increased embryonic mortality and decreased pregnancy rates. Therefore, it is important to plan on transporting cattle before the breeding season or immediately after insemination.

With the knowledge of the critical time points in embryonic development, it is possible to completely understand how stress from shipping can result in increased embryonic mortality in cows (Table 2). When animals are loaded on a trailer and hauled to a new location, they become stressed and release hormones related to stress. These hormones lead to a release of different hormones that change the uterine environment in which the embryo is developing. During blastocyst formation, hatching, maternal recognition of pregnancy, and attachment to the uterus, the

Table 2. Effect of time of transport after insemination on pregnancy rates

Days after insemination that transportation occurred Synchronized pregnancy rate

1 to 4 74%

% pregnancy loss compared to transportation on days 1 to 4 Breeding season pregnancy rate


8 to 12 62%

29 to 33 65%

45 to 60*






*Loss compared to percent pregnant prior to transportation (pregnancy determined by transrectal ultrasonography) Data adapted from Harrington et al., 1995, and Merrill et al., 2007




When Can I Ship Cows? Shipping between days 1-4 is best. The embryo is still in the oviduct during this time; therefore, it is likely not subjected to uterine changes. Also after day 45, the embryo is well established and fully attached with the placenta; therefore it is less susceptible to the changes resulting from stress. Shipping at this point is less risky; However, embryonic loss from shipping has been reported up to 60 days after insemination. Care should always be taken to try to reduce the stress involved when animals are shipped. Do not overcrowd trailers and handle cattle as gently and calmly as possible. Table 3. Time Points for Shipping Pregnant Cattle

Day When to ship 1 - 4 or after 45 - 60 When not to ship 6 - 42

Heat Stress and Embryonic Mortality The best time to ship cattle is during early stages of development. However, this is also the time point when the embryo is most susceptible to increased temperatures. Temperature, humidity, radiant heat and wind all affect heat stress in cows. The rectal temperature of cattle is normally 102.2°F, and in increase in rectal temperature by as little as 2°F can result in decreased embryonic development (Ulberg and Berfening, 1967). When rectal temperatures

reach 105.8°F for as little as 9 hours on the day of insemination, embryonic development can be compromised (Rivera and Hansen, 2001). Heat stress has also been reported to change follicular waves, resulting in reduced oocyte quality (Wolfenson et al., 1995). Researchers have reported that heat stress 42 days prior (Al-Katanani et al., 2001) and up to 40 days after breeding can affect pregnancy rates (Cartmill et al., 2001). This illustrates how important it is to plan ahead for the breeding season. Several methods have been researched to reduce the effects of heat stress. Shade, fans and misters can all reduce the effects of heat stress in natural service or artificial insemination (A.I.) programs. These methods allow animals to stay cooler during the hottest parts of the day. In humid areas, misters may not actually benefit the animals. If the water cannot evaporate, it will not be effective at cooling the animal. Producers that utilize A.I. can also implement timed A.I. (T.A.I.) protocols to increase pregnancy rates during the hot summer months. Timed A.I. has increased pregnancy rates over animals inseminated 12 hours after estrus detection in conditions of heat stress (Arechiga et al., 1998; de la Sota et al., 1998). This is most likely due to fewer animals showing signs of estrus when under heat stress. When the weather is too hot, animals tend not to move around as much and do not show signs of standing estrus. Heat detection is a vital part

of getting more animals pregnant. Since fewer animals are seen in heat, fewer animals can be inseminated. In this case, T.A.I. would be the best protocol to use, because it eliminates heat detection. Using embryo transfer during times of heat stress can also increase pregnancy rates. High quality, fresh embryos have been proven to increase pregnancy rates over A.I. in heat stressed cows (Putney et al., 1989). Embryos at time of embryo transfer can adapt to the elevated temperatures. Therefore, use of embryo transfer during times of heat stress can improve pregnancy success.

Conclusion Getting cows/heifers pregnant during the breeding season, especially early in the breeding season, can have a tremendous impact on the profitability of a cow/calf operation. Tremendous amounts of time, effort and costs are required to have a successful breeding season (natural service or A.I.). Stressing animals during critical time points of embryo development can have a tremendous negative impact on pregnant rates. Heat stress can decrease pregnancy rates during early embryonic development, and stress from shipping can decrease pregnancy rates throughout early embryo development. Therefore, planning around the breeding season becomes an important management tool for maximizing pregnancy success.  References available upon request.




Great Sires

Photo by Suzy Hebbert, E D Angus, Ashby, Nebraska.

Backed by Pathfinder® cows


16761484 16134394 17016630 17179119 17633563 17532083 16983331 17007891 17822045 17877778 17383988 17935497 18176611 18434747 18554315 18394876 18628457 18467508 18634342

Genex Cooperative, Inc. PO Box 469 Shawano, WI 54166



FIRST First in the industry: PregCheck™ Fertility Rankings Chute-side Service Large Herd Solutions

888.333.1783 //

© 2018 Genex Cooperative, Inc. All rights reserved.


Product of the U.S.A.

Please Recycle.

HORIZONS, Beef Edition  


HORIZONS, Beef Edition