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Reproduction

      One of the most important factors in cow production is reproduction of the herd itself.

     If cows don’t get pregnant and produce calves, it is basically a waste of their production time.

   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.

Artificial Insemination
    
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.

Estrus synchronization
    
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.

Pelvic Measuring
    
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 

 

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