The Reproductive Rate of Cattle

With regards to the reproductive rate of cattle, as a ruminant farmer or an intending ruminant farmer, you need to be well aware of the reproductive rate of any ruminant animal you would like to go into as this will guide and enable you understand exactly what you are actually venturing into and how long it is going to take you before you can get back your return on investment.

I always advice farmers never to invest or venture into any kind of Agricbusiness simply because they see their neighbors or friends doing it and they are turning out well, please understand that your expectations and the persons own are not the same.

Therefore always carry out a detailed research study of any form of agricbusiness investment you wish to embark upon to know if it is something you would be willing to do before venturing into them.

Cows are usually pregnant for nine months (for example: Has the gestation period of 9months) and they usually give birth to one calf at a time, this means that a normal cow should deliver a calf once a year.

However, there are rare occasions when a cow delivers twins. Now when they deliver twins, it is sure that one will be male and the other female.

The female will however be sterile for live because it has female reproductive features externally but internally they are those of a male.

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The Reproductive Rate of Cattle

The USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System data suggests:

  • 19.5 percent of operations take advantage of semen evaluation
  • 18 percent palpate for pregnancies
  • 14.3 percent body condition score
  • 7.9 percent use estrus synchronization
  • 7.6 percent use artificial insemination (A.I.)

The Reproductive Rate of Cattle

                                                         The Reproductive Rate of Cattle

Here are three ways to improve your herd’s reproductive efficiency:

1. Detect heats in Cattle and other animals and make smart decisions

“Many technologies on the market today are simple to use and effective,” says Ky Pohler, assistant professor of beef cattle production at Texas A&M University. “One example is a breeding indicator, a self-adhesive patch many producers use primarily for heat detection.”

Breeding indicators are applied halfway between the hip and tailhead of a cow’s back. As estrus activity and mounting occurs, the indicator’s surface ink is rubbed off by the friction of the mounting to reveal an indicator color. Once a certain amount of color is exposed, the animal is considered in standing heat and ready to breed.

“Some breeding indicators have easy-to-read bullseyes on them,” says Pohler. “Once the bullseye, or the equivalent surface area, is rubbed off the animal – that animal is ready to breed and is up to three times more likely to result in a confirmed pregnancy.”

The chance of a successful pregnancy is lower when an indicator isn’t fully activated. With that information, you or your A.I. technician can make smart cow-side decisions, like choosing an inexpensive straw of semen.

If an indicator is fully activated, that cow has a higher chance for a successful pregnancy, and you might use more expensive semen or sexed semen. You might even put in an embryo.

2. Diagnose pregnancies

“The majority of beef females in the United States never undergo a pregnancy diagnosis,” says Pohler. “Herds that don’t use pregnancy diagnosis are taking a gamble.

The wait-and-see strategy can be a costly one if a cow isn’t pregnant and is consuming feed and resources for the duration of her thought-to-be pregnancy.”

Confirming pregnancy allows you to make an informed decision about a cow’s future in the herd. A cow confirmed pregnant might move into a group of pregnant cows which are managed differently.

A non-pregnant cow detected early in the breeding season might transition to another round of breeding or she may leave the herd altogether.

Breeding indicators can also be used as a pregnancy diagnosis tool. If a cow is cycling but doesn’t come back in heat, which would be visually apparent based on her breeding indicator, then the cow is most likely pregnant.

“The value of a pregnancy diagnosis can’t be understated,” says Pohler. “It has the power to significantly increase reproductive efficiency.”

3. Get management basics right

For reproductive efficiency, you’ve got to have your basics covered. Using technology is not a replacement for other overlooked management areas. Including technology without addressing management will still cause inefficiency.

“If you’re going to use a reproductive technology, but your cows are in poor body condition, you can’t overcome that,” says Pohler. “If nutrition is bad, no technology will give you the results you desire.”

Animal health is another management aspect that needs focus.

“It sounds simple, but vaccination plans, disease management protocols and biosecurity need to be adopted and practiced,” says Pohler. “If you don’t have these in place, you might end up with only a 50 percent calf crop due to mid- to late-term abortions or other disease-related issues, a huge loss that could have been avoided.”

The bigger reproductive efficiency picture

If you want to improve reproductive efficiency, you’ve got to think about it more than one or two times per year during breeding and calving seasons.

“Reproductive efficiency improves when you have a bigger-picture focus, preparing animals year-round for breeding, calving, breeding back and repeating the cycle,” says Pohler. “Ultimately, you have to find technologies and management practices that work for you.”

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Benadine Nonye

An Agric. Consultant & a Blogger - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education... Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4ProfitsTV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: benadinenonye.

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