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Understanding female reproduction accelerates positive momentum in the cow herd

By Whitney Whitaker, Angus Communications
During the Angus University webinar, Keys to Reproductive Success: Female Edition, held Dec. 13, Dr. Bob Larson shared tools and practices to help cattlemen achieve optimal success in their cow herds. Photo courtesy American Angus Association
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Latest Angus University webinar discusses improving fertility and overall income
Everyone wants cattle that breed easily, calve early and display good reproductive performance. Though this may sound simple enough, however do cattlemen achieve those things simultaneously?

During the Angus University webinar, Keys to Reproductive Success: Female Edition, held Dec. 13, Dr. Bob Larson shared tools and practices to help cattlemen achieve optimal success in their cow herds. Photo courtesy American Angus Association
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“I’m a big fan of a concept called ‘positive momentum’ because I believe really good reproductive success this year ensures really good reproductive success next year,” said Dr. Bob Larson, a veterinarian with the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University.

During the Angus University webinar, Keys to Reproductive Success: Female Edition, held Dec. 13, 2022, Larson shared tools and practices to help cattlemen achieve optimal success in their cow herds. 



SETTING GOALS

One way to achieve this goal is to benchmark a producer’s current situation and compare it to a desired plan. For example, a producer with an 8 percent open rate might set a goal of Larson’s ideal open rate of 5 percent. This allows for a significant increase in earned income as earlier calving cows leads to heavier weaning calves and a faster rebreed window. 



Larson also described the difference in reproductive success for first-calf heifers. To meet the constraints of having an 83-day period for cows to rebreed and calve at the same time next year, Larson recommended heifers calve ahead of cows for their first calf. To help ensure heifers reach puberty at the right time, he advised assistance from your veterinarian. 

“It is important for veterinarians to really evaluate the heifers to make sure each individual heifer and the group as a whole can reach puberty in time to get bred a little ahead of the cows,” Larson said.

He explained how the onset of puberty is primarily influenced by age and weight within breeds. Which leads to a common question, what is the appropriate target weight?

“The real question is, what ration should I feed heifers to result in the desired number reaching puberty by the desired date,” Larson said. He emphasized again how working alongside a veterinarian and nutritionist helps producers answer those questions. 

Larson reiterated for producers to achieve this success in their operations, they must avoid the primary threats to positive momentum. These threats include having heifers who don’t calve ahead of cows, calving in thin body condition, bulls that fail to successfully breed cows and diseases ending pregnancy. Avoiding these issues promises potential for success year after year.


To dive deeper into Dr. Larson’s presentation, visit bit.ly/DecemberAUrecording. To learn more about Angus University webinars and the upcoming episode, Keys to Reproductive Success: Bull Edition, visit http://www.angus.org/Pub/AngusNewsRoom/2023-cattlemens-congress-au-session.

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