Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



Published in J. Anim. Sci. 2006. 84:3415–3420. Copyright ©2006 American Society of Animal Science. Used by permission.


Ten years of calving records were examined from Bos taurus crossbred cows (mean of 182 cows/ yr) to quantify the effects of environmental conditions during the breeding season on pregnancy rate. Estimated breeding dates were determined by subtracting 283 d from the calving date. Relationships were determined between the proportion of cows bred during the periods from the beginning of the breeding season until d 21, 42, and 60 of the breeding season and the corresponding environmental variables. Weather data were compiled from a weather station located approximately 20 km from the research site. Average daily temperature and relative humidity were used to calculate daily temperature-humidity index (THI). Daily averages for each environmental variable were averaged for each period. Minimum temperature (MNTP) and THI for the first 21 and 42 d of the breeding season were negatively associated (P < 0.001) with pregnancy rate. For the 0- to 21-d, 0- to 42-d, and 0- to 60-d breeding periods, respective r2 for average temperatures were 0.32, 0.37, and 0.11, whereas r2 for MNTP were 0.45, 0.40, and 0.10 and r2 for THI were 0.38, 0.41, and 0.11, respectively, for the same breeding periods. The negative associations of temperature and THI with pregnancy rate are most pronounced during the first 21 d of the breeding season, with a −3.79 and −2.06% change in pregnancy rate for each unit of change in MNTP and THI, respectively. A combination of environmental variables increased the R2 to 0.67. In this analysis, windspeed was found to be positively associated with pregnancy rate in all equations and increased the R2 in all breeding periods. Optimum MNTP for the 0- to 21-d, 0- to 42-d, and 0- to 60- d breeding periods was 12.6, 13.5, and 14.9°C, respectively. For the 0- to 60-d breeding period, optimum THI was 68.0, whereas the THI threshold, the calculated level at which cattle will adapt, was found to be 72.9. Reductions in pregnancy rate are likely when the average MNTP and THI equal or exceed 16.7°C and 72.9, respectively, and for Bos Taurus beef cows that are pasture bred during a 60-d spring-summer period.