Economic Analysis Favors Use Of Reproductive Technologies

Study Shows Cow/Calf Producers Can Profit From Estrous Synchronization And Timed Artificial Insemination

By: John Rodgers, DVM, MS, Cattle and Equine Technical Services, Pfizer Animal Health

A new study shows the economic benefit of utilizing estrous synchronization (ES) and timed artificial insemination (TAI) can be up to $49.14* per cow.1 The study is the first of its kind to quantify the financial outcomes of using these technologies to increase the efficiency of cow/calf operations.

In this study, almost 1,200 suckled beef cows from eight locations were assigned randomly to one of two treatment groups: cows inseminated artificially after synchronization of ovulation followed in 66 hours with TAI versus cows exposed to natural service without ES.1

For each herd, cows receiving the treatments were maintained together in similar pastures and exposed to bulls 12 hours after the last cow in the TAI treatment was inseminated. A partial budget analysis was used to determine the economic outcomes of ES and TAI on the production of weaned calves.** Results demonstrated: 

  • The percentage of cows that weaned a calf was greater for TAI — 84% compared with the control cows at 78%.
  • Weaning weights per cow exposed to treatments were greater for the cows in the TAI group.
  • A greater percentage of cows exposed to TAI calved during the first 21 days than cows in the control group.

When all factors were evaluated, the study found a $49.14 economic advantage per cow exposed to ES and TAI compared with the control.* Location greatly influenced weaned calf weights, which may have been a result of differing management, nutrition, genetic selection, production goals and environment.

Having both the economic and production data for ES and TAI technologies can help cow/calf producers better evaluate these types of technologies for a reproductive management program unique to their operation. This information can help producers choose the right technologies for their operation, given the increasing number of options they have available for the synchronization of estrus.

The choice to use ES and TAI affects many parts of the production system, and producers can use this study to help evaluate the success of reproductive management programs. Since management plays a significant role in both the economics and production outcomes of these technologies, it’s important that producers have the right information and understand how their decisions can impact profitability.

About this study

Research for this study, “An Economic Evaluation of Estrous Synchronization and Timed Artificial Insemination in Suckled Beef Cows,” was completed as part of Dr. John Rodgers’ Master’s of Science degree from the University of Minnesota in 2008 under Dr. Cliff Lamb. It is currently providing a platform for a larger study, the Multi-state Reproductive Project, a collaborative research effort that involves 15 cow/calf producers across the United States; the academic institutions of South Dakota State University, University of Wyoming and the University of Minnesota; and industry representatives from Pfizer Animal Health. This program began in 2009 and will conclude in 2013. It is the first of its kind — in relation to size, and for its multiple locations, disciplines and collaborators — that will provide a large database of information for future research.

About the author

Dr. John Rodgers holds a bachelor’s degree in natural resource management from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 1983. Dr. Rodgers also completed his master’s degree in animal science from the University of Minnesota in 2008 with a special interest in applied reproductive biotechnologies in beef cattle.

Dr. Rodgers began his career as a partner in a large animal practice in Fairmont, Minn., where he practiced for 13 years. Following three years as a technical service veterinarian for a major feed company, Dr. Rodgers joined Pfizer Animal Health in 1999 as a territory representative. He was promoted to senior veterinarian in 2002. Dr. Rodgers currently serves as a Senior Veterinarian with the Pfizer Animal Health Cattle and Equine Technical Services team, working to help producers and veterinarians improve overall herd health and reproductive efficiency in beef cattle herds throughout the upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions.

About Pfizer Animal Health

Pfizer Animal Health, a business unit of Pfizer Inc., is a global leader in the discovery, development, manufacture and commercialization of animal health medicines and vaccines, with a focus on both livestock and companion animals. For more than 60 years, we have been committed to enhancing the health of animals and bringing solutions to our customers who raise and care for them. To learn more, visit

For further information, Contact:

Jean Lonie 
Pfizer Animal Health 

Lindsey Langemeier
Bader Rutter

*Economic outcomes were measured using increased returns and decreased costs compared to decreased returns and increase costs attributed to the intervention of ES/TAI in a commercial cow/calf production system.

**Partial budget analysis calculations were based on two production outcomes: 1) weaning weight of calves from cows exposed to treatment as average weight weaned per cow treated and 2) average weaning weight of calves weaned.

1 Rodgers JC, Bird SL, Larson JE, et al. An Economic Evaluation of Estrous Synchronization and Timed Artificial Insemination in Suckled Beef Cows. J Anim Sci. May 14, 2012. Available at: Accessed October 29, 2012.



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