Cow Calf: Flushing Beef Cattle
Flushing is a management term for providing high quality feeds, usually grains prior to the start of the breeding to increase reproductive performance. Flushing has been used in the swine industry to increase the number of ovulations in sows. Can this concept be applied to young beef females that calve in less than adequate body condition?
David Lalman at Oklahoma State University conducted research investigating the impact of changing body condition after calving on pregnancy rate in 1st-calf-cows. As expected, young females that calve in a body condition score of less than 5 and maintained BCS through 12 weeks post-calving had the lowest pregnancy rates. Heifers that calve in a BCS of less than 5 then fed increased energy post-calving, which would be somewhat like flushing the female because there is a substantial increase in weight gain in these heifers, achieve a pregnancy rate of 66%, which is well below and acceptable rebreeding rates for females during their second breeding season. Interesting in this data set is that heifer that calved in a BCS of greater than 5 and were fed extra energy after calving had only three percentage units higher pregnancy rate compared to heifers that calved in a similar BCS and did not loose weight post-calving (94% vs 91% pregnancy rate).