Thursday, August 24, 2017

Pre-Breeding Checklist

I know many of you are just starting the fall calving season, but as the calves hit the ground, it is never to early to start planning to re-breed those cows and heifers.  Here is a list of things that can make your fall breeding go the best it can.

For me, it can be broken down into two basic categories:  Nutrition and Health

Nutrition:  Once a cow has calved, her nutritional needs change drastically from when she was pregnant.  Your cow is now eating to provide nutrition for her recovery, along with providing all the nutritional requirements her newborn calf requires.  In most cases, these increased needs can be met by using a protein source in conjunction with the nutrients provided by grazing.  Other cases may require the use of supplemental energy and protein to meet these needs.  Proper vitamin and mineral needs can be achieved through basic supplemental feed such as range cubes, the use of injectable nutrients such as MultiMin 90, or by well-balanced mineral supplements like Concept-Aid.  The key to good conception rates is achieved by having the cattle gaining weight going into breeding season, along with allowing the cows 60-90 days post-partum to be physically and hormonally ready to breed.

Health:  The other half of the equation is making sure your cows are vaccinated annually for many of the diseases that can cause low conception rates in cows, and lower mortality in their calves.  My recommendations are to give a dose of Vira-Shield, 7-way, Stay-bred, and wormer (injectable or pour-on)  Vaccinations should be done at least 2 weeks prior to cows being set up for A.I., or being turned out with bulls.  In the South, wormer for parasites should be applied 2-3 times per year.

On top of the preparation of your cows and heifers for calving, this is the time to start evaluating your herd concerning operational goal, genetic outcomes from your current calf crop, and genetic goals for your future.  By planning ahead, you can save yourself money, and sometimes a lot of headaches trying to get semen on the perfect bull for your cow.

Best of luck with your calving season, and don't forget to contact ZNT when making plans to breed those heifers or cows you just got done calving out.