One of the most important factors in cow production is reproduction of the herd
If cows don’t get pregnant and produce calves, it is basically a waste of their
Nothing Beats a Bull
Overall, the identification of fertile bulls is the most common method in
ensuring cow reproduction. Identification of fertile bulls improves reproductive performance and, as a result,
producers will see an increase in profits as well.
Sub-fertile bulls, be they old, diseased or genetically inferior, generally produce
fewer calves, and can hurt overall profitability. Because they are sub-fertile, they also make less efficient use
of the herd. Choosing the right bull is crucial to herd production and your overall success, because the right bull
can not only produce more calves, but can decrease the duration of the breeding season.
One good fertile bull can also eliminate the need for additional
bulls within the herd, so an investment in an identified and superior bull can pay huge dividends, saving money and
time over the long run.
Many small operations have seen the benefits in artificial insemination (AI).
This technique often eliminates the need to buy a superior bull, and can possible eliminate the need for bulls in
the smaller herd altogether.
The time needed for heat detection has made the widespread adoption of AI slow, and the
overhead expenses are often seen as a deterrent to the small rancher. These expenses, however, are usually offset
because there is no longer a need to purchase and tend to a superior bull.
This method allows the producer to breed females in a shorter period of time
without having to observe heats continuously. Several different programs have been developed using varying
combinations of hormones to control cycle. This technique allows the producer to develop a program and choose
options that best fit their operations.
Some producers use pelvic measurements as a method of identifying which heifers
are more predisposed to problem births. This method is somewhat controversial; however, as there can be negative
health consequences to the heifer.
Time and Money
One of the biggest stumbling blocks to implementing these and other reproductive
management techniques is time and money. Not only can some of these programs be complex, but the costs to implement
scare most away. Most ranchers will opt for the traditional reproduction. But, the USDA found that operations who
have taken advantage of some of these new techniques have seen increased productivity and profit.
The technology has opened the doors for many producers to produce the ideal calf for
their operation. A combination of good breeding coupled with enhanced reproduction ensures a rancher that their
stock is top quality. Armed with this confidence, production can increase as well as price.
Of course, the individual operational needs of your herd and ranch will ultimately help
you decide what, if any, programs or techniques to follow and implement. The traditional method of finding a
superior bull has no doubt survived and lasted for generation upon generation because it consistently proves
effective. With today’s advancements, the rancher has a variety of options, the task at hand is determining which
one, if any, are the right fit for you.
US Department of Agriculture