Cystic Ovaries

Theis year cystic ovaries have been occurring very commonly, and have been one of the most important causes of cows being presented to the vet for not being seen bulling

What are cystic ovaries

A cystic ovary is an ovary with a large (usually greater than 2cm), persistent (usually for more than 10 days) fluid-filled structure.

Cysts are often divided into two groups (luteal and follicular), based on production of progesterone and appearance. However, there is a vast amount of overlap between the two types and it is probably best to treat them just as cystic ovaries.


Clinical Signs

Cows with cystics ovaries usually have abnormal oestrus cycles; persistent oestrus, shortened oestrus intervals or failure to cycle (anoestrus). Anoestrus is by far the most common sign.

Persistent bulling behaviour, or nymphomania, is by far the least common clinical sign associated with cystic ovaries.


  • Best done by ultrasound examination by a veterinarian


  • Early prompt treatment is important as most cysts will not resolve on their own.
  • A wide range of products have been used to treat cystic ovaries. Progesterone, prostaglandins and gonadotrophin-releasing hormones are the most commonly used products


We do not fully understand the causes of ovarian cysts, which means that there are no specific prevention regimes. However energy deficiency is a major factor, and reducing the depth and length of the period of negative energy balance after calving, will significantly reduce the incidence of cystic ovaries

This can be achieved by:

  1. Ensuring cows calve with a condition score between 2 and 3
  2. Correct formulation of the ration
  3. Maximising dry matter intake
  4. Minimising metabolic disease
  5. Maximising the care of the cow at and just after calving


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