Vet’s Voice: Economics of preg checking | TSLN.com

Vet’s Voice: Economics of preg checking

Dave Barz, DVM

This is the first year I can remember standing water in the bean fields the end of July. We have plenty of moisture in our area, but some areas are short of summer rains. Last week we had special yearling sale at the livestock market. With prices well over a dollar for yearlings and sixty cents for cows. Now would be a good time to pregnancy check your cows and heifers.

Many ranchers prefer to calve early and most breed their heifers to calf at least 21 days before the cows begin. We are also seeing a lot of breeding bulls going to market. As the bulls are pulled producers are taking the $70 per hundredweight for bulls that have fulfilled their genetic potential in the herd. Timely removal of marketable open cows, heifers and unneeded bulls will allow more summer grass for productive cows and greatly save on winter feed.

Ultrasound has aided in early pregnancy detection. Most palpators can determine pregnancy using ultrasound at about 30 days. If your palpator is not using ultrasound they may ask that the females be 60 days pregnant before working them. The only problem with early pregnancy diagnosis is normal fetal slip or early abortions. This means that heifers may be pregnant when diagnosed early, but 5-7 percent may not calve. I still feel early diagnosis is worth the expense.

With early pregnancy diagnosis it is possible to group heifers into calving periods. The earliest bred heifers are thought to be the most fertile. These are the animals you would like to add to your herd. By grouping heifers, you could calve the early group and retain them in the herd, market other pregnant heifers at a later date as pregnant, and sell the opens or later heifers to market as feeding yearlings.

Many purebred producers are ultrasounding to determine the sex of the calf. This is best accomplished before the cow is 70-80 days pregnant as the calf becomes too big and falls over the rim of the pelvis. They may select cows to market because of the sex of the calf. With this procedure cows can be sorted into calving groups. The open cows may be marketed if needed and some of the later cows may be placed on later sales.

Heifer development is one of the most expensive management practices on the ranch. By segregating the different groups of heifers in your herd and marketing timely you can maximize the returns while adding the most fertile heifers to the herd. Most producers believe it costs about $1 per day to run a cow. I feel this is drastically low for my area. Some producers are spending more than $3 per day for cow maintenance. This means that every month they keep an open cow costs then about $90. With the market at all-time highs, moving those open cows will greatly save on feed expenses.

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In the livestock business an old axiom is “time is money.” Every day we own a critter it costs us money for yardage, feed and interest. Careful planning and timely marketing will help generate more dollars for your operation.

This is the first year I can remember standing water in the bean fields the end of July. We have plenty of moisture in our area, but some areas are short of summer rains. Last week we had special yearling sale at the livestock market. With prices well over a dollar for yearlings and sixty cents for cows. Now would be a good time to pregnancy check your cows and heifers.

Many ranchers prefer to calve early and most breed their heifers to calf at least 21 days before the cows begin. We are also seeing a lot of breeding bulls going to market. As the bulls are pulled producers are taking the $70 per hundredweight for bulls that have fulfilled their genetic potential in the herd. Timely removal of marketable open cows, heifers and unneeded bulls will allow more summer grass for productive cows and greatly save on winter feed.

Ultrasound has aided in early pregnancy detection. Most palpators can determine pregnancy using ultrasound at about 30 days. If your palpator is not using ultrasound they may ask that the females be 60 days pregnant before working them. The only problem with early pregnancy diagnosis is normal fetal slip or early abortions. This means that heifers may be pregnant when diagnosed early, but 5-7 percent may not calve. I still feel early diagnosis is worth the expense.

With early pregnancy diagnosis it is possible to group heifers into calving periods. The earliest bred heifers are thought to be the most fertile. These are the animals you would like to add to your herd. By grouping heifers, you could calve the early group and retain them in the herd, market other pregnant heifers at a later date as pregnant, and sell the opens or later heifers to market as feeding yearlings.

Many purebred producers are ultrasounding to determine the sex of the calf. This is best accomplished before the cow is 70-80 days pregnant as the calf becomes too big and falls over the rim of the pelvis. They may select cows to market because of the sex of the calf. With this procedure cows can be sorted into calving groups. The open cows may be marketed if needed and some of the later cows may be placed on later sales.

Heifer development is one of the most expensive management practices on the ranch. By segregating the different groups of heifers in your herd and marketing timely you can maximize the returns while adding the most fertile heifers to the herd. Most producers believe it costs about $1 per day to run a cow. I feel this is drastically low for my area. Some producers are spending more than $3 per day for cow maintenance. This means that every month they keep an open cow costs then about $90. With the market at all-time highs, moving those open cows will greatly save on feed expenses.

In the livestock business an old axiom is “time is money.” Every day we own a critter it costs us money for yardage, feed and interest. Careful planning and timely marketing will help generate more dollars for your operation.

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