Can a Bred Cow Have a False Heat?

Breeding cattle is a lucrative opportunity for farmers interested in increasing the numbers in their herds or selling them for a profit. 

Dairy and beef farmers breed their cows to increase their numbers and make their farming operations profitable. 

Sometimes, bred cows exhibit interesting behavior associated with being in heat, including false heat.

A bred cow can have a false heat. It is fairly uncommon but not unheard of for pregnant cows to experience false heat. If you believe your cow to be pregnant, but she is exhibiting signs of being in heat, make sure to get her rechecked before selling or attempting to breed her again.

Cows cycle through hormones like progesterone and estrogen throughout their heat cycles and pregnancies. 

Sometimes this leads to a false heat during pregnancy. 

Let’s look into how bred cows occasionally experience a false heat.

can a bred cow have a false heat

Is A False Heat Common In Bred Cows?

Seeing a sign of heat while a cow is pregnant is surprising to dairy and beef farmers. 

Heat signs vary, but many experienced farmers know the signs. 

A cow in heat may stand to be mounted or start mounting other cows in the herd. 

Cows in heat tend to be a bit more restless. While seeing heat signs is usually a good sign, it tends to be a bit concerning when it happens in a pregnant cow.

Pregnant cows usually do not experience an extended heat cycle and won’t likely go into a full-blown heat, but they may still experience a false or silent heat. 

It is not very common, but it does happen occasionally. 

This happens because of progesterone levels. 

Some cows experience a false heat and seek out the herd bull during this time.

What Is A False Heat?

False heat periods are not very common, but they do happen. 

You’ll likely notice a change in the activity of pregnant dairy cows who experience false heat.

In dairy herds, a false heat happens due to a change in the hormone levels of estrogen and estrogen-like hormones. 

In the majority of dairy cattle who experience false heat during pregnancy, it occurs in mid to late gestation. 

Gaining insights into dairy cattle behavior will help develop a heat detection program.

The main hormone in pregnant dairy cattle is progesterone. 

The corpus luteum releases this hormone on the ovaries. 

So if your family milk cow is pregnant, you may notice a change in behavior from these hormones. 

Progesterone does not allow the cattle to keep cycling. 

During normal heats, the herd bull will mate with the cow at ovulation to impregnate her.

Related Reading: Bulls mating with the same cow twice 

Sometimes, the cow experiences a false heat when the placenta starts forming and releasing estrogen and estrogen-like hormones. 

The body reads these hormones and begins a false heat.

Is It Dangerous For A Pregnant Cow To Experience A False Heat?

It is not dangerous for a pregnant cow to experience false heat. 

While it may be alarming or upsetting to those farmers who believe their cow to be pregnant, there is no serious issue with this. 

Some farmers will think their pregnant dairy cow has aborted or was never successfully inseminated. 

This is not the case. 

False heat is simply a biological occurrence caused by changes in hormone levels during pregnancy.

It is dangerous to attempt to breed a pregnant cow as it may cause harm to the calf or mother. 

It is very important to recheck your dairy cattle if you think they are experiencing false heat when pregnant. 

Other than this, there is no reason to be seriously concerned. 

Continue to provide proper care and adequate nutrition for your bred cows to keep them strong and ready to deliver their calf.

What To Do If A Bred Cow Experiences A False Heat

If a bred cow experiences a false heat, there is not too much to do. 

However, if you believe the bred cow may have experienced an abortion or other issue with their pregnancy, getting a professional opinion is a good idea. 

A professional farm veterinarian will be able to thoroughly assess and evaluate your cow’s health and calf to ensure everything is fine. 

If the vet finds the bred cow had aborted, you will be able to proceed accordingly and attempt to breed her again once you get the all-clear from a veterinary professional.

What Are The Signs Of Real Heat In Cows?

Knowing the signs of heat in cows is very important for those breeding cattle. 

This way, you will know exactly when to breed your cattle and get the most success when introducing the herd bull to the rest of the cows. 

Signs of heat vary a bit, but there are a few more common tell-tale signs of your cows being in heat. 

Whether pregnant or not, it is good to become familiar with these signs. 

This way, you’ll have the knowledge and information to identify if your bred cow goes into a false heat. 

Here are some of the most common signs of heat in cows.

  • Cows in heat will stand in a mounting position to let bulls know they are ready to be mated.
  • Cows will also attempt to mount other cows when in heat.
  • You may notice mucus discharge during heat cycles.
  • The cow’s vulva may redden or swell during their time in the heat.
  • Cows in heat will become more restless and may bellow during this time.
  • During heat, cows may sniff and lick more than they usually do.

These signs of heat are exhibited in pregnant and non-bred cows alike. 

They are part of the natural cycle of hormones responsible for breeding and mating. 

Usually, these signs of heat are a good indicator of when cows in a herd are fertile. 

If you notice them during pregnancy, don’t fret. 

Keep an eye on the cow in case any other symptoms arise and get them checked by a veterinarian to ensure everything is going well with the pregnancy.

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Growing up amidst the sprawling farms of the South, Wesley developed a profound connection with farm animals from a young age. His childhood experiences instilled in him a deep respect for sustainable and humane farming practices. Today, through, Wesley shares his rich knowledge, aiming to inspire and educate others about the joys and intricacies of rural life.

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