My group talked briefly about the topic of variety in our economy. Agriculturally, we have many areas or commodities that help form our overall agriculture value of Gordon County. Beef cattle production is a major player with easy over 10,000 brood cows in our county.
For cattle producers the number of calves sold annual is a major source of income for the farm.
The higher percent calf crop increases the opportunity for profit. Today, I will share information from a publication by Carole Hicks and Ted G. Dyer, UGA Extension Animal Scientists.
In a nutshell, you want each individual cow in your herd to conceive in the first 40-60 days of breeding season, have a live calf born unassisted and then breed back to calve within 12 months. The cow must also raise a quality calf that is marketable. The producer comes into play by managing the herd correctly.
The top six areas that the farm owner must consider in management is proper nutrition, keeping good body condition on the cattle, keeping them healthy, adding crossbreeding in commercial operations, using sound breeding practices and then making decision on when to cull cows and either raise or purchase new herd replacements.
It is known that keeping a cow in good shape after calving will help her return to estrus and breed back within 80 days of calving. This will keep her in the time frame of raising a calf annually. Cows also maintained on an increasing plane of nutrition just before calving will have a shorter breeding interval. It is also suggested to plan calving along when you should have major forage growth.
Simply put, this will cut down your need of supplementing feed, increase your milk production and then also get the cow cycling quicker. The benefit from getting cows breed earlier in a breeding season is that it will result in more calves born in a tighter window of time.
This will cut down on your labor costs or time invested in monitoring cows during calving season. Keeping cows that breed earlier in the breeding season is also a management decision too in determining which cows to keep or cull.
Having a controlled breeding season is important too because it will help give you more marketing options for your calf crop.
The calves will be more uniform in age and size. Plus, more of the cows will be at the same stage so it should be easier to meet their nutritional needs. Again, a controlled breeding season will have your calving season controlled too.
From personal experience, trying to balance work, a farm and two daughters that play basketball and softball all over the place is assisted by keeping the calving season on the farm in check. It helps with time management on and off the farm.
Many cattle producers will have heifers and cows pregnancy checked any where from 35-90 days after removal of the bull to confirm pregnancy. If you truly are looking at your operation as a business, you should cull all open cows and heifers after a pregnancy exam.
If a cow is open at the time she is ready to wean the current calf, this means it will be two years before she will wean another calf, provided she becomes pregnant in the next breeding season. This is a long time for her to be a non-profitable member of the herd. Again, deciding which animal to cull or keep is a decision of each owner. This is where record keeping is important to see what a cow has done production wise previously.
Finally, keeping the herd healthy throughout the year is also a way to keep the herd working at a high level. Research a solid herd vaccination plan or visit with your local large animal vet to come up with a plan to address vaccination needs of your area. For more information contact Gordon County Extension at 706-629-8685 or email email@example.com.