beef reproduction management

Reproductive Management

Reproductive Efficiency: Few Things Have Greater Impact on Your Profitability

Reproductive diseases can have a devastating impact on your operation’s success and your financial well-being. Bovine reproductive conditions include:

Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus (BVDV)

What is bovine viral diarrhea?

  • BVDV is a highly contagious virus that can infect both beef cattle and dairy cattle
  • BVDV can contribute to reproductive disease (abortions and birth defects), respiratory disease and, less commonly, diarrhea
  • BVDV Types 1a, 1b and 2 are extremely contagious
  • BVDV Type 1b is currently the most prevalent subtype in the United States1

Cattle affected

  • Most infections are acquired after birth, and are transient, meaning they only last a few weeks
  • A small percentage of infections are acquired in the uterus, and the calves are persistently infected (PI), shedding the virus for their entire lives 

Disease development

  • In pregnant cows, the virus can be transferred through the bloodstream to the fetus (vertical transmission)
  • Infected animals can shed the virus in saliva, nasal and eye discharge, urine, feces, milk, semen and aborted fetal tissues, exposing other animals (horizontal transmission)


  • Most infections are subclinical, meaning cattle show no signs
  • Signs can vary from mild to severe, but relate to reproductive disease (abortions and birth defects) or respiratory disease 
  • PI calves can develop mucosal disease, resulting in diarrhea, digestive tract ulceration and often death


  • Diagnosis is generally made by a combination of physical exam and blood, milk or tissue testing


  • There is no treatment for BVD, which is why prevention is so important
  • Your veterinarian may recommend supportive care and antibiotics for secondary infections


  • Identify and eliminate PI calves
  • Prevent exposure with good biosecurity
  • Vaccinate cows to improve colostrum quality
  • Vaccinate calves to boost immunity
  • Choose vaccines labeled to protect against the BVDV subtypes in your area

Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR)

What is infectious bovine rhinotracheitis?

  • A contagious viral infection caused by bovine herpesvirus-1 (BHV-1)
  • Often a contributing factor in bovine respiratory disease complex
  • Can also lead to reproductive disease and abortion

Cattle affected

  • All ages of cattle are potentially affected

Disease development

  • Spread through nasal and genital discharge, fetal fluids, embryos and semen
  • Can infect the ovaries and placenta, leading to late-term abortions in pregnant cattle


  • Respiratory disease may appear as nasal discharge, sneezing, eye inflammation, ulcerative lesions inside the nose, coughing 
  • Abortions, birth defects, infertility


  • Physical exam and blood or tissue testing


  • There is no treatment
  • Your veterinarian may recommend antibiotics for secondary infections or other supportive treatments


  • Vaccinate cows to improve colostrum
  • Vaccinate calves to boost immunity


What is leptospirosis?

  • A bacterial disease caused by numerous serovars of Leptospira, spiral-shaped bacteria called spirochetes
  • Common serovars in North America include Hardjo and Pomona, and to a lesser degree GrippotyphosaBratislavaIcterohaemorrhagiae and Canicola 
  • The infection can be zoonotic, meaning it can be passed from animals to people

Cattle affected

  • Cattle of any age can be affected

Disease development

  • Wildlife such as rodents may harbor the infection and shed bacteria; spirochetes often live in stagnant water
  • Infected urine and placental fluids serve as sources of infection
  • Spirochetes invade through the mucous membranes (such as the mouth tissues) or in abrasions
  • Bacteria can travel in the bloodstream to organs such as the kidneys and reproductive tract


  • Clinical signs can vary, depending on the species of bacteria
  • Some infections may be subclinical, meaning there are no signs
  • Fever, anorexia, depression, dark-red urine
  • Abortion, stillbirths, weak offspring and prolonged calving interval


  • Bacteriological culture of blood, urine or tissue samples, or more advanced diagnostics


  • Work with your veterinarian to choose the right antibiotic


  • Vaccination
  • Prevent exposure to swampy ground or streams


What is trichomoniasis?

  • A contagious bovine venereal disease caused by a protozoan, Tritrichomonas foetus 
  • A reportable disease in many parts of the United States

Cattle affected

  • Any cattle could potentially be infected

Disease development

  • Organisms are passed from an infected bull to uninfected cows, or from infected cows to uninfected bulls, during mating
  • The protozoa invade the lining of the reproductive tract and multiply
  • Organisms can also be transmitted in semen from infected bull


  • Overt signs usually not apparent
  • May present as a herd fertility problem 
  • Females may experience abortion, failure to conceive, prolonged calving periods, pyometra, vaginal discharge


  • It’s generally easier to test bulls with a preputial fluid sample
  • The sample can be cultured for organism growth
  • Advanced diagnostic tests may be warranted


  • The only way to guarantee an infected animal doesn’t spread the infectious organism is to cull it for slaughter


  • Using artificial insemination may help in trichomoniasis control. Collection facilities should test semen for the organism
  • Test bulls for trichomoniasis
  • Good biosecurity protocols
  • Vaccination can help reduce infection or disease severity


What is vibriosis?

  • A bacterial infection caused by Campylobacter fetus

Cattle affected

  • Young, pregnant cattle may be most severely affected

Disease development

  • Venereal transmission can occur
  • The bacteria can also be spread in semen or on objects such as instruments and bedding


  • Cattle may not display overt signs of disease
  • Reproductive disease may appear as abortion, infertility, uterine infection, embryonic and fetal death


  • Blood or tissue cultures
  • Uterine/Vaginal swabs shortly after abortion


  • Consult your veterinarian about antibiotic treatment


  • Whole-herd vaccination is the most practical way to prevent venereal diseases

Estrus Synchronization in Beef Operations

While a small percentage of producers use estrus synchronization and artificial insemination to advance genetic change in their beef herds, there are simple, inexpensive protocols that producers can use with natural service. These protocols deliver numerous benefits including:

  • Less time and labor needed to breed calves
  • Shortened calving season
  • More uniform calf crop
  • Calves born earlier in season tend to have higher weaning weights

Work with your veterinarian to find the estrus synchronization products and protocols that are right for your operation.

Important Safety Information

SYNCHSURE IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: For animal use only, not for human use. Keep out of reach of children. Women of childbearing age, asthmatics and persons with bronchial and other respiratory problems should exercise extreme caution when handling this product. In the early stages, women may be unaware of their pregnancies. SYNCHSURE (cloprostenol sodium) is readily absorbed through the skin and may cause abortion and/or bronchospasms: direct contact with the skin should therefore be avoided. Accidental spillage on the skin should be washed off immediately with soap and water. 

CYSTORELIN IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: Do not use in humans. Keep this and all drugs out of the reach of children. 

Brightcove Video

Trichomoniasis – Preventing Trich in Your Herd

Trichomoniasis spreads quickly and can have a devastating economic impact on a beef herd. Dr. John Davidson, senior associate director of beef professional veterinary services, Boehringer Ingelheim, shares helpful tips on how to implement a successful trich prevention program.

Brightcove Video

The Persistently Infected Calf – One Calf Can Wreak Havoc on Your Herd

Why should you be concerned about persistently infected (PI) calves on your farm? Dr. Stephen Foulke, professional services veterinarian, Boehringer Ingelheim, discusses how one PI calf can impact the overall performance and reproduction of the entire beef herd. 

Reproductive Management Education and Resources

The Real Story Behind MLV Vaccines Related to IBR Abortions

The safety of modified-live virus (MLV) vaccines for breeding cattle has been a widespread controversy across the industry. MLV vaccines are used for the prevention of reproductive diseases, such as infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), that are commonly associated with abortions in cattle.


Synchronization Contributes to Higher Pregnancy Rates and Heavier Calves at Weaning

“The most significant measurement of success in beef herds is pounds of calf weaned per exposed female,” said Richard Linhart, DVM, DACT, Boehringer Ingelheim. “Pounds weaned per exposed female include all efficiencies within a cow/calf herd, such as reproductive efficiencies, calf death loss, genetics and nutrition.”


Test Your Knowledge on Trichomoniasis

When it comes to trichomoniasis, also referred to as trich, the more you know about the disease, the better you’re prepared to prevent a costly outbreak.

red angus beef cow

All Beef Cattle Products

Count on Boehringer Ingelheim for a wide array of products to help keep your beef cattle in good health and at peak performance.

Fulton RW, Ridpath JF, Saliki JT, et al. Bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) 1b: predominant BVDV subtype in calves with respiratory disease. Can J Vet Res 2002;66(3):181–190.


CITADEL®, CYSTORELIN®, EXPRESS®, SYNCHSURE®, TRIANGLE® and TRICHGUARD® are registered trademarks of Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc. ©2021 Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc., Duluth, GA. All Rights Reserved. US-BOV-0622-2021