Reproductive Efficiency

Reproductive Efficiency

Black Ink

Steve Suther

When you breed or turn out bulls with heifers or cows, you have certain expectations. Ideally, you want each of them to become pregnant, deliver an unassisted, healthy calf and raise it to half its momma’s weight six months later.

But since nobody runs cattle in an ideal world, you have to settle for what’s possible and profitable. It is not common for those with more than a few cows to wean 100% calf crops, but you might hear it said. Some details are usually left out, starting with a defined inventory of cows.

That’s like reporting wheat yields based on unspecified harvested acres rather than planted acres. It may sound better, but it doesn’t help you analyze and solve problems, or make more money.

Economic analysis requires a record of how many females had a chance to become pregnant, and what final number actually weaned a calf. This “weaning percentage” is the ratio of weaned calves to cows exposed. For more precision, these numbers should be in pounds rather than head. Either way, in most databases, the top 25% of producers ranked by net income manage no better than about 85%.


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