Preparing for Breeding Season

May 6, 2019


As many cattlemen know, a cow must be rebred within 85 days of calving to have one calf per year. The saying I often heard in college still holds true, "A cow must produce something for sale every year, even if it's herself." Increased success with calving and rebreeding a cow herd starts with goals such as having a 60-day calving interval for a more uniform calf crop or getting heavier calves to sell in a 365-day calving cycle. To reach the goal of having a calf every year, a producer must consider their management skills, genetics, nutrition program, and herd health. Nutrition programs can be different for every operation, but overall, having a quality program fit for your herd can optimize conception rates.

Body condition scoring your cowherd is a point I stress regularly as it can help determine your success at rebreeding.  In fact, knowing your cow's body condition score 60 days prior to calving, during calving, at rebreeding, and at weaning, will have an impact on your rebreeding success. For a large portion of the year, cows are eating for themselves plus the calf at side and the fetus inside them. A quality mineral program impacts that cow's colostrum quality at calving season, her calf's mineral health status, and most importantly, the tissue repair of the reproduction tract after calving to get her prepared for rebreeding. The ideal BCS going into calving is a 5.5 - 6. Studies from Purina Animal Nutrition have shown these cows to have a conception rate of 88% or higher.

Forage does not provide all the mineral your cowherd needs and is not consistent throughout the year. If feeding supplements along with forage, a cow needing more nutrients will consume more supplements, but if forages are providing adequate nutrition, they will consume fewer supplements.  Ideally, a cow should be cycling prior to breeding and bred during the first 21 days of exposure. A cow with poor nutrition may take longer to breed back or not get bred at all. The longer amount of time she is open, the more dollars she is costing a producer.

Additionally, if she does rebreed, but has a poor nutrition program, this could affect her during calving season with possible troubles or a weak calf.  Fetal programming has become popular in the cattle industry in the last couple of years. What this means is that the quality nutrition of a cow passes down throughout the lifetime of her offspring.  Her nutrition affects her breed back rate, plus her calf's health, gains, and its ability to reproduce healthy calves if kept as a replacement.

Take time to work with your veterinarian, nutritionist, and employees on your program. Communication of an operation's goals will increase success and can provide solutions should a problem arise. To set up a year-round mineral program today, talk to your local CVA feed specialist.
 
by Brandi Salestrom
Posted: 5/6/2019 8:30:03 AM by Kristin Petersen | with 0 comments