Glenn Selk: Choosing The Right Estrous Synchronization Protocol

By: Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist. Published previously by Drovers online.

Beef producers that use artificial insemination in their breeding program use estrus synchronization to better utilize their labor resources both during breeding and calving seasons.  Choosing the synchronization protocol that best fits each individual situation is challenging because so many options are currently available.

The Beef Reproductive Task Force is a committee of animal scientists from seven land grant universities in the United States.  This committee is made up of beef reproduction scientists and extension specialists that have been instrumental in conducting research and evaluating estrus synchronization protocols.  Each year they review the research and make recommendations of estrous synchronization systems that the committee agrees will give producers the best choices for their situations.

Producers need to decide how much “heat detection” that they feel that they can do successfully.  Some producers can take the time to do “heat detection” for a couple of weeks.  Other producers can find the time to be good at “heat detection” for only a few days, while many other producers would prefer not to “heat detect” at all.  Therefore the Beef Reproductive Task Force has categorized different estrous synchronization protocols accordingly.  Also the committee has made appropriate recommendations for synchronization systems for yearling replacement heifers and for adult cows (currently nursing calves).

Different protocols require varying numbers of trips the cattle must go through the working chute.  Availability of good working equipment and labor should also be factors in choosing the best protocol for any given operation.

Beef producers can download the 2019 Estrous Synchronization Protocols for Heifers and Cows as well as several helpful fact sheets and planning tools by clicking on the Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle website brought to you by the Beef Reproduction Task Force.  The URL is .  If you utilize artificial insemination or estrus synchronization with natural service you will find this information quite valuable.  Keep in mind that most of the synchronization products are only available by a prescription from your local food animal veterinarian.

Most of the protocols described require that planning and purchasing of the products used must done several days and in some cases several weeks in advance.  Don’t wait until the last minute before the spring breeding season to decide which synchronization protocol best fits your situation.


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