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The Cattle Connection

The cattlemen's connection to timely topics, current research, and profitable management strategies
Culling/Selection

What is your ideal cow?

One of the most popular questions I get asked is "What is your ideal cow?" This question always spurs quite the debate. Factors like breed, cow size, milking ability, and a long list of phenotypes are discussed. Comments like "We don't want to go back to that kind of cattle" typically dominate the conversation. While I enjoy listening to the stance of different cattle breeders and cattl...

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Considerations for Heifer Selection and Development

Many producers are in the process of weaning spring-born calves or have this task accomplished. Coinciding with weaning calves, many cow/calf producers will select the next crop of replacement females. The keep/cull sort on heifers can be sometimes overthought. This factsheet offers some tips for heifer selection...

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Bulls need evaluated prior to turnout

All bulls that will be used in a breeding season need to be tested. Without a breeding soundness exam (BSE), producers are taking a huge risk. Breeding Soundness Exams are low-cost and provide a great return on investment. Bulls that are infertile or have poor fertility will fail to settle cows. Evaluating bulls is crucial to making sure that cows get bred. A BSE should be conducted eac...

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Lonely Bulls

How much can I afford to pay for a bull?

A popular question this time of year is "How much can I afford to pay for a bull." My go-to answer is usually… "How much revenue loss would you have from a pasture full of open cows?" After all, we often de-value the role of the bull. We forget that he is a crucial part of the equation to making our product. Now, the question is a good one to ask. Especially after watching calf prices c...

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Open cows? Diagnosing the failure to breed

Open cows are simply a fact of the cattle business. Managing to achieve a 100% pregnancy rate is simply not cost effective, nor should it be your goal. Having a few open cows every year implies some selection pressure is being put on fertility and animals best-fit for your environment. However, if the number of open cows is excessive (greater than 5%), evaluation of management, nutrition and he...

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Developing Replacement Heifers

As feed and commodity prices fall and cattle prices continue to hold firm at record levels, the incentive to add pounds with "cheap" feeds is present. Proper heifer development hinges on achieving a desired weight before breeding…yet not over-developing heifers to the point they are not prepared to live on pasture and forage-based diets the remainder of their life. Most literature shows...

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heifer development

Selection of Replacement Heifers

As cattle producers wean calves, careful consideration in selecting replacement heifers is vital. Each cattleman will have different priorities depending on herd goals; however, these selection tips will help you incorporate proven selection strategies into your process. Selection While there may be different selection criteria priorities on your farm, consider removing these ch...

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DNA/Genomic testing: Only as good as the user

One of the greatest gifts to agriculture was the plow. Perfected by many, the plow turned the earth and gave way to farming as we know it. However, the plow also contributed to the great Dust Bowl of the 1930's. This illustrates that technology is only as good as those that implement it. One of the most exciting technologies in the cattle industry today is the expanded use of genomics....

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trojan horse

Don't buy the Trojan Horse

Drought in different areas of the United States has moved many cows hundreds of miles from origin. In many cases cows are under-valued in drought areas due to lack of water and low winter feed supplies. As a result, many times even with higher freight costs cows can be bought cheaper out of drought areas compared to local markets. I think it is important to realize that cows from different area...

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cows in the backseat

Management in a Drought: Part 5

Sometimes it is hard getting those old cows to town... go ahead the picture is supposed to make you smile. Culling cows is a part of every cattle operation and in most herds culling occurs every year. Sometimes we hate to part with cows, but in a drought situation culling cows can asure we still have adequate feed resources for the younger, more productive cows. It just...

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Body Condition Scoring: Low Cost Profit Booster

The ability to accurately Body Condition Score (BCS) cows is one of the most valuable skills a producer can acquire. As we enter breeding season, BCS of the cows will be a large determinant in achieving desired conception and pregnancy rates. Numerous studies (Selk et. Al., 1988; Pruit & Momont, 1990; Houghton et al., 1990) have shown that BCS plays a role in subsequent pregnancy rates. Cow...

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