A New Procedure to Synchronize Estrus in Dairy Heifers: Progesterone Inserts and PGF2a - Dairy Cattle [Skip to Content]

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A New Procedure to Synchronize Estrus in Dairy Heifers: Progesterone Inserts and PGF2a
by Darrel J. Kesler


  • A new procedure to synchronize estrus in dairy heifers is under review by the FDA. Approval should be announced in 2001. It involves the concurrent administration of intravaginal progesterone inserts (CIDRs) and PGF2a.
  • Data submitted to the FDA demonstrated that the procedure synchronized 84 percent of the 122 treated heifers. The conception (number pregnant) number inseminated) and pregnancy (number pregnant) number treated) rates were 54 percent and 45 percent, respectively.


Methods to synchronize dairy heifers are needed, particularly now that Syncro-Mate B is no longer available. Although heifers can be administered PGF2a and bred upon the detection of estrus, use is limited for several reasons. Dairy heifers generally have high fertility rates and are easier to manage for breeding than cows because of the absence of milking. However, they are often neglected.


Illinois was included in a multi-location study submitted to FDA for approval of the estrus synchronization procedure that includes the intravaginal progesterone insert and PGF2a. Other locations included Florida, Missouri, and New York. The study included two groups: Group 1-PGF2a and Group 2B involved:

  • the administration of an intravaginal progesterone insert (CIDR) for seven days, and
  • an injection of PGF2a (25 mg of Lutalyse7) one day before insert removal.

After the time of insert removal all females were observed for estrus and bred via the A.M./P.M. rule upon the detection of estrus. Estrus detection began the day after the time of insert removal and continued for 31 days. Pregnancy was determined via transrectal ultrasonography. Intravaginal progesterone insert loss rate was 5 percent.


Table 1. Brief summary of the results included in the FDA submission and an article submitted to the Journal of Animal Science.

Item PGF2a Insert + PGF2a
First three days of the breeding season:    
Synchronization Rate 57% 84%
Conception Rate 65% 54%
Pregnancy Rate 37% 45%
First 31 days of the breeding season:    
Pregnancy Rate 57% 59%

Synchronization Rate: estrus during the first three days of the breeding season

Conception Rate: number pregnant ÷ number inseminated

Pregnancy Rate: number pregnant ÷ number treated

Overall, inclusion of the intravaginal progesterone insert increased the number of heifers in estrus and the number of heifers conceiving during the first three days of the breeding season. Although, the PGF2a was administered one day before insert removal, subsequent research has demonstrated that treatment on the day of insert removal will yield similar results. Therefore, this procedure has utility in managing reproduction in dairy heifers. The procedure is expected to be available sometime during 2001 and it will be distributed by Upjohn Animal Health.


Use of the intravaginal progesterone insert (CIDR) along with PGF2a effectively synchronizes estrus in dairy heifers. It is expected to be available in 2001; however, approval for use in lactating cows is not being sought at this time. Approval for use is lactating cows is expected to be sought after approval is acquired for its use in heifers. During 2001 there will be procedures to synchronize estrus in dairy heifers: PGF2a, MGA and PGF2a (discussed in another article within this publication), and the concurrent use of CIDRs and PGF2a. Producers should obtain the advantages of AI and reduce the reliance on estrus detection as heifers are an easy to bred female.

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