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Cattle heat detection options

Quick facts

Failure to detect heat early in the breeding season or improper timing of insemination due to heat detection errors can result in an extended time between calving and additional costs for semen and labor.

Heat detection aids can save time and, in the long run, save money.

Common heat detection aids:

  • Breeding and mounting indicators
  • Tail markers
  • Electronic mounting monitors

Why use estrus detectors?

Effective heat, or estrus, detection is economically important to beef and dairy producers who use artificial insemination.

Heat detecting can be difficult to manage and is time consuming. It's hardest during seasons of additional farm work such as planting or harvesting. Finding someone to give the time necessary to properly detect heat can be a challenge. Often, not enough time is spent doing this crucial step.

Heat detection aids can make it easier to identify cattle that have stood to be mounted, or are in a "standing heat." Heat detectors help catch those females that stand to be ridden and take some of the guesswork out of when the best time is to breed that animal. It can be difficult to be there all the time to monitor heats, but with the use of heat detection aids you can note which females stood to be mounted when you weren't there.

This video by South Dakota State University Extension, “Detection of Estrus,” has helpful tips and advice for successful heat detection.

Common heat detection aids

We've tested a sampling of the variety of detection aids on the market. The examples described below are the most common and reliable in the industry today. But there may be others available that work just as well. 

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Melissa Runck, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2019

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