Improving cowherd reproduction via genetics
Western Livestock Journal
A beef cow’s job is not an easy one. She is expected to conceive at slightly over one year of age, to calve by the time she is two, and rebreed shortly after that while weaning a healthy, viable calf. Furthermore, we demand that she consistently repeats this cycle for the rest of her life—one stumble and, in the words of California’s terminating governor, hasta la vista, baby!
To be sure, producers are best served when the cow successfully performs her task for many years, as the longer her productive life, the more profitable she is to the enterprise. Is there anything that can be done to help her out? Certainly, there are environmental factors we can manage that will give her a leg up. For example, by providing adequate nutrition, a proper vaccination regimen, and mating her to easy-calving sires (particularly when she is young) we increase the odds of her success. While a cow’s environment has a substantial impact on her reproductive performance, her genetic makeup can, too. This paper explores the genetics of female reproduction and offers suggestions on how to improve the reproductive performance of your cowherd via genetics.