“Tighter calving windows have shown to increase cattle herd values,” says Patrick Davis MU Extension Livestock Field Specialist. A shorter breeding season leads to a tighter calving window. Below, Davis will share thoughts on how to shorten the breeding season and how this leads to improved herd value and profit potential.
“To shorten the breeding season, you need to plan to have more cows showing estrus and cycling earlier than normal,” says Davis. Davis urges cattle producers to use an estrous synchronization protocol to stimulate the cows to show estrus and cycle earlier in the breeding season. For more information on estrous synchronization protocols that you might use contact your local MU Extension Livestock Field Specialists.
“Adequate body condition at calving and breeding helps cows return to estrous sooner after calving,” says Davis. A body condition score of 5 or greater at the start of the breeding season increases conception rates early in the breeding season. Lactating cow body condition maintenance is difficult with lower quality hay or when cows are chasing new grass growth and total pasture forage availability is limited. Davis urges energy supplementation in these situations.
“With the increase in cows cycling and showing estrus earlier in the breeding season it is important to make sure you have the correct bull to cow ratio or possibly increase that ratio,” says Davis. Typical bull to cow ratio for mature bulls is 1 to 30 cows, 18-month-old bulls is 1 to 20 cows and yearling bulls is 1 to 12 cows. However, Davis urges cattle producers when using natural service sires with estrous synchronization to increase the bull power to 1 to 10 cows for yearling bulls, 1 to 15 cows for 18-month-old bulls and 1 to 25 cows for mature bulls. In the case of yearling bulls, Davis urges monitoring these bulls closely to make sure that they are breeding cows.
“Ideally we want a 60-day breeding season or less,” says Davis. Shortening the breeding season results in an older, heavier more uniform calf crop. This leads to more pounds of calf at sale time, which potentially improves profit potential.
“Finally, with trying to shorten the breeding season there is potential for open cows,” says Davis. One way to reduce this problem and get a good salvage value out of the cow is to leave the bulls longer with the cows. Then, sell those cows that conceive and will calve out of the 60-day window. Perform the pregnancy diagnosis early enough to accurately determine expected calving dates, and cull cows that will calve late. Since pregnant cows bring more than open cows this should increase sale income from your cull cows.
For more information on optimum breeding season and calving season length contact your local MU Extension Livestock Field Specialist.