What can ranchers do better to forecast calving season?

Improving reproductive efficiency in a beef herd does not have to be difficult. A veterinarian shares what beef producers can do to better forecast calving season.

“The largest benefit of synchronization is getting calves born earlier in the season, and what that does to your cow herd is it does a couple of things. First, it actually increases weaning weights because calves are all weaned at the same time in the fall. So, for a younger calf, that is the number one factor that determines weaning weight. So, if the calf is older and has more time to grow, he’s going to weigh more. Second, it really narrows the calving season, which allows for producers to be a little more focused on their management. If you have a long six-month calving season, it’s hard to focus on doing a really good job and fine-tuning what you’re doing with that group of cows. But if you have a 45- or 60-day calving window, you could focus more closely on that, and synchronizing will allow that to happen more effectively,” said Dr. Joe Gillespie.

Gillespie says producers can introduce synchronization within their herd and it is as simple as a single trip through the chute.

“Giving a product that’s called prostaglandin. And those prostaglandins given to 100 percent of the cows will actually cause them to typically have an estrus cycle within three to five days after that synchronization What you essentially do instead of having a 21-day window where 100 percent of the animals make cycle, you may get that down to all the way around 10-14 days, and that allows for the opportunity to get more of those cows pregnant in the front end or front-loading that calving season. And if you get them closer together, you can manage them better.”

While the process is described as relatively easy, Gillespie says there are other factors producers need to keep in mind.

“It’s about proper nutrition, vaccinating animals, making sure that they’re protected against any kind of venereal disease or diseases that could cause risk of fertility in those animals before they get exposed to the bull. Also, you can’t forget about parasites and the impact of a parasite on the immune system which can affect fertility. And then finally, if you’re doing natural service, whether you’re doing it with a synchronization program or without, breeding soundness exam on your goals is really important because we can bring in fertility issues with the bull.”

There are a lot of decisions to be made when it comes to cattle reproductive health, so Gillespie stresses it is important to work closely with a veterinarian to put a plan in place.

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