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The Cattle Connection

The cattlemen's connection to timely topics, current research, and profitable management strategies
Reproduction
May 1 2013 turnout

Mitigating challenges of lush spring grass

Video discussion on this topic available here During the winter season most cattle are supplemented with dry forages, grains, and co-products. This ration is balanced and delivered to cattle. Then spring comes along and cattle are put out to grass. While green grass solves a lot of problems associated with w...

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May 1 2013 turnout

Washy pastures need supplemented with dry matter, fiber, and energy.

During the winter season most cattle are supplemented with dry forages, grains, and co-products. This ration is balanced and delivered to cattle. Then spring comes along and cattle are put out to grass. While green grass solves a lot of problems associated with winter feeding (manure, pen maintenance, calf health, and labor demands), it can pose nutritional challenges. Lush, spring forage has t...

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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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Feeding cows

First-Calf Cows: High nutrient demand can slow breed-back

First-calf cows (3 year olds) are traditionally the most challenging animal to get bred on the farm. As we approach breeding season, cattlemen need to be aware of this challenge and make sure they do not drop the ball on getting first-calf cows re-bred. First-calf cows are dealing with a large demand for nutrition. Nutrients are needed to support maintenance (normal bodily processes), l...

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Focus on Getting Cows Bred Early in the Breeding Season

I was speaking at a meeting one evening and I was talking about how nutrition affects reproduction. I got to the portion of the talk discussing how post-partum interval affects cows getting bred in a 60 day season. I asked the members of the crowd to raise their hand if they maintained a 60-day calving season. Very few hands went up. One of the few was attached to a gentleman that spoke up and...

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Now is a great time to conduct a BCS on the cowherd

Cattle prices are holding at record levels so far this fall. As we head into bred heifer sale season, there appears to be a lot of interest from producers eager to re-invest profits. Prices for heifer calves have been elevated, however some have taken lofty steer checks and saved heifers back for replacements. The market for breeding cattle has been and looks to be good. Producers are seeing in...

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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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Deja Vu - 2014 pastures look very similar to 2013

As we have a few weeks under our belt in the 2014 grazing season here at Orr Beef Research Center, it is apparent that the similarities to last year are numerous. The persistence of cold weather has caused a delay in pasture growth Pastures are wet, low in dry matter and very lush Some drought in the fall opened areas for weed penetration into stands...

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Reasons to incorporate Timed A.I. into your herd

There is no question Artificial Insemination (A.I.) has been a game changer into today's industry but timing could be key to your herd success. Natural service still makes up the majority of breeding in the U.S. cattle industry, however rising bull purchase prices may push more producers to use A.I. Traditionally, A.I. has been implemented in herds that synchronize estrus. This scenario...

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Rebreeding is the key to Rebuilding

Cattle markets are setting new records, feed costs are falling, and cattlemen are anxious to stabilize and rebuild numbers. Forecasted profits for the cow/calf producer are the highest they have been in decades. While I would like to end this column right here and tell you all to go buy a new pickup, I am a realist. There is a limiting factor to your success in this forgiving market. Yo...

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The Value in Pregnancy Checking

This piece is authored by Dr. Dallas Duncan DVM, Large Animal Veterinarian with Mt. Sterling Vet Clinic. Pregnancy checking of cattle can save producers more money than most other management practices. The single highest costs associated with cattle are feed costs. Meaning, feeding an open cow through winter is a huge drain on a production operation. In my mind, it is essential that...

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Lonely Bulls

Does your herd have a defined breeding season?

If you find yourself calving every month of the year, then you do not have a defined breeding season. I have watched many herds get strung out the last two years. First, evaluate your nutritional program and ensure you are meeting cow requirements during breeding and keeping cows in good BCS. Nutritional deficiencies will give your cows little opportunity to breed no matter the other ci...

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Spring grass looks good, but comes with concerns

The flush of spring grass is a welcomed sign to beef producers that have been feeding cows for what seems like forever. However, producers preparing to move cows out to pasture need to be aware of two big concerns. First, Grass tetany is a concern with lush spring grass. This immature grass is very high in moisture and low in mineral content and dry matter (DM). The main culprit of gras...

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tankandstraw

Breeding season on a collision course for 2013 planting?

Anticipation and anxiety fill Illinois farmers' heads. Late winter weather in the Midwest has many farmers in hurry-up-and-wait mode in effort to get the crop in the ground. When the sun starts to shine and the breeze starts to blow, many farmers could find themselves having to choose between planting corn or breeding cows. Thanks to proven synchronization methods it doesn't have to come to tha...

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Make your breeding season a winning one

If not for the start of baseball season, I am not sure that I would believe it is spring. Obviously, Mother Nature has fallen in love with the curveball. Despite the uncertainty of the weather, it is clear that to be in the cattle business cows have to breed. Simple as it sounds, it is not so easily executed. Reproductive success or failure hinges on numerous factors, but the biggest fa...

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Makin momma cows: Part 4 of 4

This topic is not broken down into four parts for fun. Heifer development takes careful thought and precision-like execution. Previous blogs have talked about the steps leading up to breeding. This post will discuss options in breeding replacement heifers. Recent research has shown the importance of heifers conceiving early in the breeding season. It is proven that heifers that conceive...

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BCS cows prior to calving

As we approach calving season it is important to assess your cows Body Condition Score (BCS). Cows calving in optimal BCS (5 or 6) have shown to have numerous benefits. One of the largest benefits of good body condition at calving is subsequent reproductive performance. Cows in good body condition at calving are more likely to breed back in a defined calving season. In the last two year...

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Cows on vacation

Do you have cows that are on vacation?

A cow's job is to produce a calf. A profitable cattle operation must produce a merchandisable product. In the cattle business, that means we need calves to sell. The past two years have made getting cows bred challenging. Poor forage quality, stagnant water sources, and extreme heat during the breeding season put stress on cows and bulls. Additionally, the drought forced producers to sa...

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Breeding Cattle by Appointment

When I was a kid, the barber shop in town was "walk-ins only." Some days you would get lucky and get directly in the chair. Other days were not nearly as fortunate (weekends before holidays were brutal). As the barber got older, he decided to switch to "appointments only." Some customers fought the change, but guess what I never ended up spending the whole afternoon waiting in line anymore. The...

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Bull pic

Natural service vs. Artificial Insemination

Wow! We sure have seen some high prices paid for commercial bulls this year. The cattle market as a whole is pretty good, but prices for breeding stock seem to be pushing top dollar. With these higher prices, I think it is worth looking at the value of Artificial Insemination (AI). It is a must-use practice for the seedstock guys, but the commercial cattlemen can find value in it too. T...

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