This time of year, many Extension beef cattle educators preach the importance of a short breeding season where most of the cows and heifers conceive on the first service. Certainly a number of issues can affect how long it takes to get the entire herd settled, but a tight breeding season offers the opportunity to manage and market the resulting calves as one consistent group, points out Stan Smith with Ohio State University Extension.

What is the direct economic benefit of cows that conceive on the first cycle? Assuming adequate nutrition is available, a good calf is likely gaining about 2.25+/ lbs./day at weaning time. If born 21 days later than his counterpart, a calf could easily weigh 40-50 lbs. less as a feeder calf come market time in fall 2008. If feeder calves are worth $1.20/lb. next fall, one missed breeding cycle could cost $50-60 for each calf that is born only one cycle late. For a cow that’s two cycles late, those numbers double, according to Smith.

Herd health (vaccinations, etc.), cow body condition ( nutrition), bull (breeding) power, bull breeding soundness and estrus synchronization programs are all factors that equate to getting cows settled early in the breeding season, Smith concludes.

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