Short communication: A reproductive tract scoring system to manage fertility in lactating dairy cows. Academic Article uri icon


  • We developed a reproductive tract size and position score (SPS) system as a reproductive management tool to identify lactating dairy cows with decreased fertility. This system, relying solely on transrectal palpation, considers the size (cervical and uterine) and position of the reproductive tract relative to the pelvis. Cows undergoing pre-breeding exams were identified as having reproductive tracts that were small (SPS1), medium (SPS2), or large (SPS3). Cows designated SPS1 had small and compact uterine horns that rested within the pelvic cavity; SPS2 cows had reproductive tracts that were intermediate in cervical and uterine horn diameter, with longer uterine horns resting partially outside the pelvic cavity; and SPS3 cows had reproductive tracts that were larger and rested mostly outside the pelvic cavity. Cows that were SPS1 had a higher rate of pregnancy per artificial insemination (43.3 3.7%) than cows that were SPS2 (36.9 3.6%) or SPS3 (27.7 4.3%). The percentage of cows with an SPS2 score differed in pregnancies per artificial insemination compared with SPS3 cows. The average days in milk was similar for SPS1, SPS2, and SPS3 cows (104.3 3.5, 98.4 3.4, and 94.7 7.7, respectively). Ultrasound measurements of the uterine horn and cervical diameter, and length measurements of the uterine horns, cervix, and vagina confirmed differences among the SPS groups derived by transrectal palpation. The ease with which transrectal palpation can be used to determine the size and position of the reproductive tract attests to the relevance and usefulness of this scoring system to identify less fertile lactating dairy cows. The ability to do so with ease provides an opportunity to make economically relevant management decisions and maximize reproductive efficiency in a given herd.

published proceedings

  • J Dairy Sci

altmetric score

  • 1.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Young, C. D., Schrick, F. N., Pohler, K. G., Saxton, A. M., Di Croce, F. A., Roper, D. A., Wilkerson, J. B., & Edwards, J. L.

citation count

  • 15

publication date

  • January 2017