Lessons For New Breeding Season

IRELAND - Cattle farmers must be programmed to think long-term, otherwise they may not keep going considering the current poor returns they are experiencing in cattle finishing.
calendar icon 24 April 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

Nothing in cattle production illustrates this better than the breeding business. Cows going in calf today will not have progeny for sale for at least 18 months, many will be 2 years and some will be 3 to 4 years before they yield any cash to their owners.

Even more long term is changes to herd quality where an upgrading programme can take 5 to 7 years to complete. However, breed improvement is one of the most cost effective means of maintaining returns. Within whatever economic or market environment we operate breed improvement is one of the few ways of keeping competitive. Genetic advances are permanent and cumulative from one generation to the next as long as there are clear breeding goals and reliable information on breeding values is available to producers.

Facing into a new breeding season there are two immediate objectives to be addressed: (i) a high reproductive performance so that cows on average produce a calf within a yearly interval and (ii) high value calves are produced.

The immediate concern of sucker farmers trying to maintain a 365 day calving interval is to get cows back in calf over a short breeding season. Compact calving depends primarily on having a short post partum interval (the period between calving and first heat) and high conception rates.

Condition score at calving and the extent of weight loss after calving are two major factors that influence how soon cows come back in heat after calving. Dr Michael Diskin has shown that cows at condition score of 1.75 at calving took about 3 weeks longer to first heat than cows at condition score 2.5 or better at calving.

Source: Business Xtra

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