Cow attributes, herd management, and reproductive history events associated with the risk of nonpregnancy in cow-calf herds in Western Canada

Theriogenology. 2013 Apr 15;79(7):1083-94. doi: 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2013.02.004. Epub 2013 Mar 6.


To identify herd management and cow characteristics associated with the reproductive success of cow-calf herds in Western Canada, 33,391 beef cows were followed from the beginning of the breeding season in 2001 through pregnancy testing in 2002. Breeding management and cow-level risk factors such as age, body condition score (BCS), and previous reproductive history, were measured through a series of herd visits by project personnel and records maintained by the herd owner. Pregnancy status was measured in 205 herds in the fall of 2001 and again in 200 herds in the fall of 2002. Cows least likely to be pregnant in the fall of the year were 10 years old or older, exposed to a bull less than 84 days, had a BCS ≤5 of 9 at pregnancy testing, <5 of 9 before calving, and lost condition between calving and the start of the breeding season, or had a prebreeding BCS <5 of 9 with a loss of condition between breeding and pregnancy testing. Other factors identified that decreased the likelihood of pregnancy in at least one of the 2 years included being a heifer or being a cow exposed to breeding after her first calf, and using a single bull on breeding pasture. Cows vaccinated for bovine viral diarrhea virus and infectious bovine rhinotracheitis and bred on community pastures were more likely to be pregnant than cows that were not vaccinated and bred on community pastures. Cows bred on community pastures that were not vaccinated were also less likely to be pregnant than cows that were not on community pastures regardless of vaccination status. Calving-associated events such as twin birth, Cesarean section or malpresentation, problems such as uterine prolapse or retained placentas, abortion or calf death within 1 hour after birth, or calving late after the start of the breeding season, were also associated with fewer pregnancies after accounting for all other factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry / methods*
  • Animals
  • Bovine Virus Diarrhea-Mucosal Disease / prevention & control
  • Breeding / methods
  • Canada
  • Cattle / physiology*
  • Diarrhea Viruses, Bovine Viral / immunology
  • Female
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Rate
  • Reproduction
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal
  • Vaccination / veterinary
  • Viral Vaccines / therapeutic use


  • Viral Vaccines