Infertility needs to be steered out of beef-cattle management systems, says Kris Ringwall, North Dakota State University Extension beef specialist. During a drought is a good time to make those hard decisions.

Bulls incapable of settling cows are useless and, with the current feed shortage, compromise the system. Open and late-calving cows impact the bottomline the same as infertile bulls, he says.

Early detection of open or later-calving cows can be a potential group of cattle to cull. Ringwall says Cow Herd Appraisal Performance System (CHAPS) benchmarks indicate 6.6% of the cow herd is typically open in any given year, and 5.4% of the cows typically calve very late (defined as 63 days after the start of the calving season).

Another 8.2% of cows typically calve between the 42nd and 63rd day of the calving season. This group of cows is another potential group for culling.

Heifers are another area to review, Ringwall says. CHAPS data indicate only 71% calve within 21 days and 85% calve within 42 days of the start of calving. This could be an area to review.

"The bottom line is simple. Call your veterinarian and get that ultrasound date booked so you have an idea of your calving spread, and can cull as feed supplies and performance dictate," Ringwall says.
-- Joe Roybal