REPRODUCTIVE wastage influences the herd calving index, culling rate, calving pattern, genetic progress and profitability, and has been estimated to cost the UK cattle industry £250 million per year. The majority of reproductive loss occurs before the expected time of the first return to oestrus following service. This period of approximately 21 days encompasses fertilisation, early embryogenesis and the maternal recognition of pregnancy. The aim of this article is to review those factors that influence early embryo survival and the success of the maternal recognition of pregnancy. A knowledge of these factors may allow veterinary surgeons to formulate strategies to increase the survival of embryos.
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