Producers that calve in a 60- to, at most, 90-day window and gain two benefits: a more effective vaccination program and more appealing calves for feedyard buyers. Vaccines are less effective spanned across varied ages, and weight ranges can surpass 200 pounds (lb.) as calving intervals grow. Consider breeding heifers to calve 30 to 45 days before the mature cowherd. This allows first-calf heifers that miss a cycle at rebreeding to stay in the main calving season. This strategy also lets you focus labor needs at calving time. Consider estrus synchronization in combination with artificial insemination (AI) to enable use of highly proven sires. Adapt programs that fit your management and facilities.
Artificial insemination is more work, but many producers find it’s more than worth it. Cattlemen know genetic change is a slow process, especially when compared to other species. AI can be part of the solution. Nothing is better for consistent, highly predictable outcomes than a cowherd with pedigrees stacked for a desired trait or combination of traits. When proven AI sires are mated in such a herd, the results will be impressive, worth retaining ownership and selling those calves on the grid.
Benefits of AI:
- Uniformity in calving dates and genetics. Research shows buyers pay a premium for calves that are more alike.
- The ability to make selections from a greater pool of genetics.
- The ability to custom mate, based on data traced from progeny back to the cow.
- Synchronization programs mean more calves born earlier in the calving season. Research shows early-born calves not only have a weight advantage, but also grade better and net more profit than their later-born contemporaries.
When choosing an AI sire, it’s important to note the accuracy. This number, based on the volume of progeny performance linked to a sire, means you can be more confident in the results as it gets closer to 1.0. Only about 10% of producers use AI today, but the technology has been available for decades. To learn more about how it could work in your herd contact your local Extension beef specialist, veterinarian or semen sales representative.