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The Cattle Connection

The cattlemen's connection to timely topics, current research, and profitable management strategies
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 circumstances.

If you find yourself with late calving cows and an over-extended calving window despite adequate nutrition, it is time to blame the cows. I suggest pulling bulls from the cowherd and preg-checking the cows after a defined breeding season (usually 60 days, but you may want to start with 90). Those that are open are now your least efficient cows. There has been numerous research conducted that shows the significance of cows calving early in the season. Not only are their cull progeny worth more money because they are heavier and healthier, but the females are more sought after as replacements because they are more likely to be pubertal and conceive quickly as replacement heifers.

If you are literally calving every month of the year you may want to sort cows into two groups. Two calving seasons, a fall and a spring, work well. Once you have cows in those two seasons, you can begin to identify and cull those that are not fitting your system.

Most producers will state that "cows are too expensive to get rid of right now." I feel that is a narrow way of looking at the situation. If a cow doesn't fit in your calving window she might for someone else. So you can choose to breed cows late and sell them to someone who can use them calving at that time. This will help avoid slaughter price for those females. But you must sell them. They are not profitable in your system, cut those late-calvers loose.

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