Various behavioral signs of estrous and their relationship with time of ovulation in dairy cattle

J.B. Roelofs, F.J.C.M. van Eerdenburg, N.M. Soede, B. Kemp

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147 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between various behavioral signs of estrous and time of ovulation and, determine which behavioral estrous sign(s) best predicted time of ovulation. In total, 94 ovulations were observed in 67 Holstein-Friesian dairy cows. Different behavioral estrous signs were observed at 3-h intervals and their relation with time of ovulation (ultrasound examinations at 3-h intervals) was investigated. In all estrous periods, sniffing and chin resting was displayed, while mounting was displayed in 90% and standing heat in 58% of estrous periods. Estrus was more intense in primiparous cows compared to multiparous cows and when more animals were in estrus at the same time. Although, these factors influenced intensity of estrous behavioral signs, they did not influence time of ovulation. Ovulation occurred 30.0 ± 5.1 h after onset of estrus (ranging between 18.5 and 48.5 h) and 18.8 ± 4.4 h after end of estrus (ranging between 9.5 and 33.5 h). Although informative, these predictors are highly variable between individuals and the method used to determine the onset and end of estrus is time consuming this, therefore limits in their use as a practical predictor of ovulation. Sniffing and chin resting were displayed during the non-estrous period and are therefore, not useful predictors of ovulation time. For animals that displayed standing heat, onset of standing heat was a good predictor for ovulation time (occurring 26.4 ± 5.2 h before ovulation). However, standing heat was only displayed in a limited number of cows, especially when only one cow was in estrus at a time. Onset of mounting was the best predictor for time of ovulation (occurring 28.7 ± 5.3 h before ovulation), and it was displayed in 90% of the estrous periods. However, mounting cannot yet be assessed automatically, which limits its practical use as ovulation predictor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1366-1377
Number of pages11
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • estrus detection
  • cows
  • insemination
  • onset


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