Getting the Herd Ready for Rebreeding Fall-Calving Cows
BCI Cattle Chat Checklist
Tips for Getting the Herd Ready for Breeding Season
Focus on the management details needed for good reproductive success because each year’s outcome impacts the next year’s advancements.
Breed heifers to calve at least 30 days before the cows.
Provide adequate nutrition to the cows maintain weight going into breeding season.
Make sure cows have an body condition score of 5 or greater.
Have the bulls ready to go for breeding season by making sure they’ve passed their breeding soundness exams.
In a deadline driven world, often it is our past successes and failures that carry us forward and that is true of the cow herd as well. Now is the time when fall calvers are in the breeding cycle.
“There is a lot of momentum from one breeding season to the next in beef cattle reproduction. On average, cows calve about the same time each year,” says Dr. Bob Larson, veterinarian and BCI faculty member.
He cites the example of how there are 365 days in a year and cow gestation length is 283 days with a postpartum interval of 60-70 days as the reason why it is hard to move up a cow in the calving cycle.
One factor that is critically important is nutrition, according to Larson and Dr. Brad White, veterinarian and BCI director. “Cows need to calve in good body condition and maintain that condition through the start of breeding,” White says. “When she is in peak lactation she has a lot of calorie drain making maintaining or adding weight difficult.”
Larson says when a cow is thin going into calving and then loses weight with lactation, her body’s natural response is to delay returning to fertile estrus cycles.
Along with the cows, Larson and White stress that it is important to make sure the bulls are ready for the breeding season as well. Larson advises that bulls need to have passed their breeding soundness exams prior to being turned out with the cows. White adds, “Bulls are like athletes; they need to be ready to go at the start of the breeding season because, hopefully, there will be a lot of cows in heat those first 21 days.”
To learn more on this topic, check out this podcast link.
–The Beef Cattle Insititute