Previous Page Top Of Page Next Page


Dairy Farming Manual

Volume 4

Husbandry Unit 6.2

page 49

Extension Materials
Why should you use a breeding calendar? (5-8)

1 A breeding calendar helps you to improve breeding in your herd.
You can write down important things about your cows on the calendar.

How can you make sure your cow calves every year? (9)

2 Check your breeding calendar every day to help you plan breeding.
You know:
- when your cow calves
- when your cow shows heat
- when your cow is bred
- when to dry off your cow.

How can you make your own breeding calendar?

- Breeding calendar 1 (11-19)
- Breeding calendar 2 (29-41)
3 You can easily learn to make two kinds of breeding calendar.

How can you use your breeding calendars?

- Breeding calendar 1 (20-28)
- Breeding calendar 2 (42-49)
4 You can easily learn to use them to produce more calves


  page 51


Husbandry Unit 6.2: 

Technical Notes 

Note: Numbers in brackets refer to illustrations in the Extension Materials.

Why use breeding calendars?  (5-10)

For every dairy farmer the most important part of his job is to make sure that his cows calve as often as possible.

This requires efficient observation of heat, insemination (A.I.) at the right time, drying off prior to calving and attention at calving time.

Information written down in note books, on loose sheets of paper and likewise tends to be irregular and forgotten.

A simple breeding calendar, kept in the barn, makes it easy to write down every important event for each cow in the herd.  At the same time, it can be consulted every day and inform the farmer if he should be aware of heat, drying off, approaching calving etc. for any of his cows.

Even in the small herd, efficient breeding is the main problem.  A breeding calendar can often improve breeding efficiency on the farm considerably, because it helps the farmer to do the right thing at the right time.

It should be emphasised, however, that cows should be observed daily for signs of heat, both morning and afternoon, because there can be irregularities in the breeding cycles, and cows may not show clear signs of heat especially in the 1st heat after calving.  The breeding calendar should be used as a guide for closer observation.

page 52

5 A calendar helps you to keep records.
It is easy to lose note books and pieces of paper.
6 The calendar tells you when to look for signs of:
- heat
- calving
and when to :
- breed your cow
- dry her off.
7 It is:
- cheap to make
- easy to make
- easy to use.
8 By doing the right thing at the right time you can improve breeding.
More calves mean more money.


  page 53

You must understand the connection between calving - milking - breeding - drying off.

9 Study this farmer's cow over one year:

10 Your breeding calendar tells you when to do what so you can make sure your cow calves every year.

Use your breeding calendar as a guide for close heat observation.

Observe heat morning and afternoon because:
- breeding cycles may not be regular
- heat signs may not be clear
especially in the first heat.

 page 54

Can I make my own breeding calendar?

Given below are two examples of breeding calendars that can be produced by the farmer himself, both of which are comparatively cheap to make.

Breeding calendar 1 

This breeding calendar is intended for the small herd (less than 5 cows), but in principle it can be used in bigger herds also. 

The breeding calander is: - easy to make
                                      - easy to handle
                                      - cheap to manufacture.

2 pieces of stiff, white card are required - recommended measurements: 80 cm x 110 cm (but bigger or smaller pieces can also be used).  (11)

Divide both cards into two halves by drawing a line with a pencil.  (12)

page 55

3. On one of the cards, construct the key opposite (with a ball liner) on the upper half. (12-13)
The key shows the relationship between:

Calving - lactation period - time of drying off - dry period


Calving - non-pregnant period - time of breeding - pregnancy period

page 56

Breeding calendar 1

11 You need:
-2 pieces of stiff white card about 80 X 100 cm.
- pen and pencil
- sticky, coloured paper
- glue and string
- sticks and small bag or container.


12 Divide both cards into halves by drawing lines.
13 On the top half of one card draw the following key:
This shows the times of milking and calving.
page 57

4. On the lower part of the card construct last year's calander. (14)

5. On the other card construct this year's calander on the lower half.

 page 58

14 On the bottom half of the same card, draw this year's calendar.
15 Your complete card should look like this.
16 On the second card:
- draw next year's calendar on the top half
- draw the year after next's calendar on the bottom half.
page 59

page 60

17 Colours and shapes help to make your breeding calendar clear.
Use the sticky, coloured paper to make signs about 1 cm high.
? calving (yellow)
ª drying off (red)
± breeding (green)
- heat detection (blue).
18 Fold over the top of your calendar and glue.
Put a thin stick through the fold.
Tie a piece of string to each end of the stick.
19 Hang up your calendars next to each other in the barn.
Keep the coloured signs in a small bag or container near your breeding calendar.
page 61

How to use the breeding calendar? 

When a cow has been bred (natural service or A.I.), the green breeding symbol marked with the number of the cow is placed at the day of breeding and the blue heat detection symbol marked with number of cow placed on the 21st day from the date of breeding.  If the cow does not return to heat, the symbol is kept in this position.  Should the cow return to heat and be bred again, the symbols are moved on to the new date.  (20-24)

Example: Cow no. 4 was bred on the 20th October, 1986 and the following entries were made on the 1986 Calendar.  If the cow does not show any signs of heat from about 10 November until it completes 45 days after breeding, i.e. till about 5 December, have it examined for pregnancy.

page 62

20 Give each of your cows a number and add the numbers to your breeding signs.

(1) (2) (3)

21 You need to add the breeding sign for each cow to your calendar

when she is bred by A.I. or by natural service (bull).
For example cow (3), see next page.

  page 63

You know when cow 3 calved.  Mark it with calving symbol 3
Look for heat after 40 days calving.  When you observe heat, place breeding sign 3 - 18 to 24 days later.  (1st breeding: 2nd heat after calving)
Look for heat again about day 56-64.  If you observe heat, mate or inseminate.  Move breeding sign to actual day of breeding.


Look for heat about 3 weeks after breeding.  If no breeding ask the vet to check for pregnanacy after 45 days.  If heat repeat breeding.


If your cow continues to show heat after breeding 3 times, ask the vet to check for reproductive disorders.


Cows should become pregnant again 60-90 days after calving.

page 64

23 This farmer kept his breeding calendar for:




He repeats heat observation about 3 weeks after breeding, and breeds again if he observes heat. After 3 AI or matings he calls the vet to examine the cow for possible disease, if she did not get pregnant.
page 65

2. Expected calving date is about 9 months counted forward from the date of breeding, which is marked with a calving symbol at the expected date.  Owing to individual variations, calving may take place some days sooner or later than expected.  After calving the symbol is moved from the expected to the actual date.  (25-26)

Example: Cow no. 4 mentioned above was expected to calve around the 20th July, 1987.  The following entry was thus made on the 1987 calendar:

 page 66

3. From the calving date the drying off date can be calculated, counting forward the appropriate number of months.  A drying off symbol, marked with the cow's number, can then be en-tered on the calendar. (27-28)

Example:  Cow no. 4 mentioned above calved around the 20th July, 1987.  At calving, the date of drying off was calculated to be around 20th May, 1988.  The following entry was made on the 1988 calendar:

(Note:  This may have to be changed subse-quently, depending on the date of successful service because the requirement is to allow a two-month dry period before next calving).
page 67

27 You need to stop milking (dry off) your cow 60 days before estimated calving.

This makes sure your cow and the calf are strong at calving.

page 68

Breeding calendar 2


1. You need a soft, wooden board (recommended measurements: 110 cm x 80 cm) and a flannel cloth to cover the board.  (about 120 cm x 90 cm).

Also you need 80 pins and string in 2 colours (about 20 m od each). (29)

2. Glue the flannel on the board and draw circle of about 60 cm diameter. (30-31)

3. Divide the circle into 12 months by marking every 15.5 cm of the circle with a pin.  Also put a pin in the centre of the circle. (32)
page 69

29. You need: 
- a soft wooden board, about 80 x 110 cm 
- a flannel cloth, about 90 x 120 cm 
- 80 pins (plain) 
- coloured pins (4 colours) 4 for each of your cows 
- string (2 colours) 
- sticky paper 
- glue. 


30. Glue the flannel cloth to the board. 
31. Draw a circle about 60 cm in diameter. 
page 70

4. Tie a string (same colour) between the corner pins and also between each corner pin and the centre pin (33)
page 71

  32 Divide the circle into 12:
- make each length 15.5 cm
- mark each length with a pin.
Each length = 1 month.
Put a pin in the centre of the circle.
33 Tie a string of the same colour from:
- the centre pin to
- each of the 12 pins on the circle.
34 Divide each month (each 15.5 cm) into 6 parts:
- place 5 pins at equal spaces between each end pin (in 31).
- Tie a string of a different colour (from 31) to each of these 5 pins.
page 72

 5. Divide each month into 6 parts by placing 5 pins placing between each corner pin. (34)

Connect each of these pins to the centre pin with the string of the other colour.

6. Write the name of each month on adhesive paper and stick them on the calander. (35)
page 73

 35 Write the name of each month on sticky paperand label your calendar.


36 You need to make 4 signs for your calendar, write them on the sticky paper:
Heat - blue pin

Breeding - yellow pin

Drying off - red pin

Calving - green pin


page 74

7. There are four events in a cows cycle that need to be recorded on the breeding calendar: 

- Heat detection - to look for heat signs.
- Date of breeding (mating or AI).
- Drying off - to stop milking a cow two months before calving.
- Calving date.

Different colours are used, blue, yellow, red and green, to symbolize the four events.

Make four labels from self-adhesive paper, and write on them:

- Heat Detection  Blue pin
- Breeding (mating/AI) Yellow pin
- Drying Off   Red pin
- Calving   Green pin

Stick the labels on the board.  Put a blue pin next to the "Heat Detection" label, a yellow pin next to "Breeding", a red pin next to "Drying Off" and a green pin next to the "Calving" label.

8. Each cow in a herd needs an identification number, i.e. no. 1,2,3,4,5 and 6.
 page 75

 37 Give each of your cows a number and mark one pin of each colour with the number.
blue    yellow    red     green

1              1          1           1
2              2          2           2
3              3          3           3

38 Stick the 4 labels onto your calendar and put a pin of the correct colour next to each label:

Heat detection          blue pin
Breeding                  yellow pin
Drying off                red pin
Calving                    green pin

page 76

39 When one of your cows calves, place a green pin with the cow's number on the date.
For example, if cow 5 calves on 10 July, place green pin 5 on that date.
40 You know the 1st heat is about 40 days after calving.
So for cow 5, place blue pin 5 40 days after 10 July, on 20 August.
This will tell you when to look for signs of 1st heat.
41 You know the 2nd heat is about 21 days after the 1st heat.
So when cow 5 shows first heat, move blue pin 5 21 days forward, to 10 September.
This tells you when to look for signs of 2nd heat.
  page 77

3. If the cow shows heat about 40 days after calving you move the blue "heat detection" pin forward 21 days after heat observation.  Then you remember to look for the second heat after calving. (41)

Example:  If cow no. 5 shows heat signs 40 days after calving, on August 20th, move the blue "heat detection" pin marked 5 to September 10th.

page 78

Each cow needs four pins, one in each colour.  Mark the pins with the cow's identification number.

How to use the calendar?

1. When a cow calves you place a green "Calving" pin, marked with the cow's number, on the day of calving.  (39)

Example: If cow no. 5 calves on July 10th, a green pin marked 5 is placed in position July 10th on the calendar.

2. A cow normally shows heat about 40-42 days after calving.  When a cow calves, also put a blue "heat detection" pin, marked with cow number, on day 40 after calving.  (40)

Example: If cow no. 5 has calved on July 10th, place a blue "heat detection" pin on August 20th.  This will be a reminder to look for signs of heat around August 20th. (If the cow does not show any signs of heat by 60 days after calving, the extension officer or veterinarian should be consulted.)

page 79

4. If the cow shows second heat after calving 21 days later (about 60 days after calving) breed her and place a yellow "breeding" pin on the day of breeding.  (42)

When the cow has been bred (mating or A.I.) it is necessary to look for signs of heat 21 days later.  So put the blue "heat detection" pin 21 days after breeding.  (43)

If the cow does not become pregnant and shows heat 21 days after breeding, she can be bred again (2nd breeding).  Then put a blue "heat detection" pin 21 days after 2nd breeding.

Example: If cow no. 5 shows heat signs on September 10th she will have to be inseminated.  Put the yellow "breeding" pin marked 5 on Septem-ber 10th.  Also put a blue "heat detection" pin on October 1st, as a reminder to look for heat signs 21 days later, in case the cow did not get pregnant.  If she shows heat on October 1st she should be inseminated again.

page 80

42 When you observe signs of 2nd heat (around September 10) inseminate or mate her.
Replace blue (heat) pin 5 with yellow (breeding) pin 5 on the date of breeding.
43 You know the 3rd heat is about 21 days after the 2nd heat.
So after breeding her (2nd heat) move blue pin 5 21 days forward to 1 October.
This tells you when to look for signs of 3rd heat.
44 If your cow shows heat signs around 1 October, inseminate or mate her again.
If she shows no heat signs, she may be pregnant.
page 81

 5. If the cow does not show heat 21 days after breeding she may be pregnant.  Move the green "Calving" pin to the expected day of calving about 9 months (average, Holstein:279 days) after breeding.  (44-45)

Ask the inseminator or veterinarian to confirm pregnancy about 45 days after breeding.

Example: If cow no. 5 is inseminated on September 10th and does not show heat later, she will be expected to calve about 9 months (or 279 days) after breeding, which will be June, 16th the following year.  Move the green "calving" pin marked 5 to June 16th on the calendar.

   page 82

6. A cow should not be milked the last two months before calving.  The cow needs time to build up her body before next lactation period.  When a cow is pregnant, place a red "drying off" pin on the day 2 months before expected calving.  (46)

Example:If cow no. 5 is expected to calve on June 16th, place a red "drying off" pin on April, 16th.

page 83

45 If you think your cow is pregnant, place green (calving) pin 5 about 9 months after breeding (about 279 days for Holstein), on 16 June, the next year.
Ask your inseminator or vet to confirm pregnancy about 45 days after breeding.
46 You know you should stop milking 2 months before estimated calving.
Place red (drying off) pin 5 2 months before 16 June, on 16 April.
These two breeding calendars are
- cheap
- easy to make
- easy to use.
They are suitable for small farms.
For bigger herds, consult your extension worker on how to make or buy a suitable breeding calendar.
page 84

These two breeding calanders are cheap and easy to make, and simple to use.  They can both be used on the small farm to cover recording of breeding for a limited number of cows.

For bigger herds more comprehensive breeding calanders may be necessory. These can also be "home made" or they can be bought. 
Consult your extension officer.


Breeding Calendar 1 was originally designed by Ms Dorcas Pratt, VSO at RIT Agricultural College, Nan, Thailand.

Breeding Calendar 2 was originally designed by Mr Pairoj Jadsa-dabundit, Teacher at DOVE Agricultural College, Nakorn Sawan, Thailand. 

 page 85

What do you know about breeding calendars?
    Use of a breeding calendar
    Use it to: - keep records 
                    - know when to do what 
    Calving every year
    Understand the connection between: 
                     - calving
                     - milking
                     - breeding
                     - drying off
    Breeding calendar 1  Breeding calendar 2
    - materials and equipment 
    - materials and equipment 
    - the calendar  - the calendar 
    - breeding, drying off calving signs 
    - heat, breeding, drying off, calving
    - hanging up    pins 
    - breeding signs  - calving and heat pins
    - looking for heat and breeding 
     - heat and breeding pins
    - example of use  - calving and drying off pins 
    - estimating calving date )
    - drying off 

page 86

Previous Page Top Of Page Next Page