Valuing Bred Beef Heifers

– Dr. Andrew Griffith, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Tennessee

Several weeks ago, there was a discussion on rules of thumb for valuing bred beef heifers. This led to a question this week about rules of thumb related to valuing bred cows and their appreciation and depreciation.

There are no rules of thumb, but there was some research performed at Oklahoma State University that can be helpful in determining bred cow value. The study found several factors including animal age, weight, overall quality, stage of gestation, hide color, and time of year influence price. Based on the study findings, bred heifers and three year old animals have the highest value, but bred cows hold their value fairly well until age six. Bred cow values increases the longer bred an animal is and the heavier she is.

There are some rather useful details in the study that can be used to Continue reading

The Process of Artificially Inseminating a Cow

Clif Little, OSU Extension Guernsey County

What are some logical steps in utilizing artificial insemination (AI) on the farm?  We will assume cows and heifers are good candidates for a synchronization program.  However, months prior to AI implementation review the desired cow and heifer physiological condition and factors that influence response to AI.  As with any new venture, it is beneficial to first observe the AI process.  There are many steps to the process, and the timing and flow of work are of utmost importance to the success of AI.

The best way to visualize the proper workflow is to see the process in action on a farm utilizing the protocol which one intends to implement. Ask the local Extension Educator for examples of farms utilizing AI, and if possible, visit and or assist in the process as a guest. This experience will provide a more complete image of how to adopt AI to one’s unique facility.  Attend an AI school.  Semen providers and some universities provide excellent AI courses.  Practice AI on beef cattle reproductive tracts prior to attempting on live animals, AI schools should provide this opportunity.  Seek the Continue reading

Male Reproductive Traits and Their Heritabilities in Beef Cattle

– K. M. Cammack M. G. Thomas and R. M. Enns, published in The Professional Animal Scientist 25 ( 2009 ):517–528, and condensed from the original manuscript by Steve Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

Male Reproductive Measures
Measures of fertility need to be considered not only in the female, but also in the male. Natural service has historically been, and continues to be, used in most beef cattle operations; therefore, acceptable bull fertility is critical to the success of these operations. Bull management is highly intertwined with female fertility, bull fertility, and cow management. Bull fertility may be affected by the number of cows a particular bull is expected to service and, in natural mating, the length of the mating period, as well as the serving capacity of the bulls. Fertility measures may be superficially increased in bulls exposed to a small number of cows during a lengthy breeding season. However, determining the proper bull-to-cow ratio is challenging because these influences are in addition to issues of pasture size and topography, multiple water sources within a pasture, and behavior

Scrotal Circumference
Scrotal circumference is used to predict the quality and quantity of spermatozoa-producing tissue and age at puberty. A scrotal circumference measurement of 28 to 30 cm is generally associated with onset of puberty; specifically, 52 and 97% of males are pubertal when scrotal circumference is 28 and 30 cm, respectively. Increased scrotal circumference has been associated with increased sperm production but decreased semen quality. Reported heritability estimates for scrotal circumference were generally Continue reading

Female Reproductive Traits and Their Heritabilities in Beef Cattle

– K. M. Cammack M. G. Thomas and R. M. Enns, published in The Professional Animal Scientist 25 ( 2009 ):517–528, and condensed from the original manuscript by Steve Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

Female Reproductive Measures
Biological and economical efficiencies of cow-calf production are largely dependent on successful reproduction. Improvements in reproductive performance can be up to 4-fold more important than improvements in end-product traits in a conventional cow-calf operation selling market calves at weaning. Whereas estimates of heritability for many reproductive traits are low, some exist that have moderate heritabilities, and there are important genetic correlations between reproductive traits and other production traits that are moderately to highly heritable.

Beef female fertility has been recorded and measured in a multitude of ways, including age at first calving, calving date, first insemination conception (nonreturn rate), days to first breeding (days open), pregnancy rate, calving interval, longevity, and stayability.

Age at Puberty
Age at puberty is used as a measure of heifer fertility and may influence subsequent reproductive trait performance. Reproductively efficient heifers reach puberty earlier, and therefore can potentially conceive earlier in the breeding season. Cumulatively, it should be noted that age of puberty had a Continue reading

Aborting Heifers Bred by Mistake

– Dr. Andrew Griffith, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Tennessee

I had to lean on the knowledge and expertise of Dr. Justin Rhinehart this week with a beef cattle reproduction question. My question to Dr. Rhinehart related to the most economical route to abort heifers because the neighbors bull visited this week.

The key to his response was mainly timing based on when the bull was removed and when I planned on marketing these heifers. For the sake of brevity, my alternatives were to determine pregnancy status of all the heifers exposed and then provide a prostaglandin shot to those found to be bred or to give all of the heifers a prostaglandin shot.

In simple terms, the prostaglandin shot needs to be administered between 10 days after the bull was removed and 30 days after his removal for the best results. The reason this is important is because pregnant heifers in the feedlot is bad for the feedlot and bad for the person who sold the animals. A bunch of bred heifers could tarnish a person’s reputation as a feeder cattle producer and it would all be for something that would cost about $5 per head.

Some Ideas on Converting from Year-round Calving to a Controlled Breeding Season

– Dr. Les Anderson, Extension Beef Specialist, University of Kentucky

Maintaining a controlled breeding and calving season can be one of the most important management tools for cow-calf producers. A uniform, heavier, and more valuable calf crop is one key reason for keeping the breeding season short. Plus, more efficient cow supplementation and cow herd health programs are products of a short breeding season. However, converting from a year-long breeding season to a shortened 2 to 3 month breeding season should not be done haphazardly.

A system for converting from year-round to a 75-day controlled calving season over a period of two years would present less loss and fewer problems than to try to convert in one year. The following steps are suggested for getting on a controlled breeding Continue reading

Date Set for 2020 OCA Replacement Female Sale

The 8th annual sale will be November 27 at Muskingum Livestock!

The 2020 date for the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) eighth annual Replacement Female Sale will be Friday evening, November 27. The sale will be held at the Muskingum Livestock Auction Co. in Zanesville, Ohio and will begin at 6:00 p.m.

The 2020 OCA Replacement Female Sale will provide an opportunity for both buyers and sellers to meet the need for quality replacements in the state. Consignments may include cow-calf pairs, bred cows and bred heifers. Females must be under the age of five as of January 1, 2021 and may be of registered or commercial background. Bred females must be bred to a bull with known EPD’s and calves at side of cows must be sired by a bull with known EPD’s. Pregnancy status must be verified by an accredited veterinarian through traditional palpation, ultrasound or by blood testing through a professional laboratory. Analysis must be performed within 60 days of sale. Consignments will also be fulfilling specific health requirements.

Why discuss a sale that is several months away? The middle of the 2020 breeding season is an excellent time to Continue reading

Natural Service vs Artificial Insemination

Clif Little, OSU Extension Educator, Guernsey County

Evaluating the cost of artificial insemination (AI) versus natural service in beef cattle is difficult since there are a great number of variables to consider.  A simple search of the Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle online resources reveals the many different kinds of comparisons that have been done, (  Each cattle producer will have a unique set of factors that weigh more heavily in their production system.   Producers will find comparisons of producing pregnancies utilizing various methods of artificial insemination and realizing costs versus value is important.  The obvious economic benefits of AI are: the uniformity of calves, concentration of work, shortened breeding and calving season, fewer bulls, improved genetic merit of the AI sired calves, and potentially more pounds of beef to sell annually.  Some factors relating to AI are not easily measured such as increased safety, fewer bull escapes, capturing the full genetic value of the AI sired calves, and improved working facilities.

The following represents selected costs of items often utilized in AI Continue reading

Controlling Reproductive Efficiency is Vital to Beef Cow Herd Profitability

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

During the second session of the Ohio Beef Cow/Calf Workshop, Dr. Les Anderson, Beef Extension Professor at the University of Kentucky, presented on reproduction efficiencies in the cow herd including getting cows rebred in a timely fashion whether utilizing artificial insemination or the natural service of herd bulls. He explained that a key to profitability each year is getting more calves, that weigh more, and the economics of timely calving and the pounds of weaning weight that are lost for each day later an individual cow calves out.

While seemingly easier said than done, this means that almost annually in any cow herd a few late calving cows must be moved up in their cycle. During his presentation, Dr. Anderson explained a research tested method of using CIDRs along with the natural service of a bull that has successfully moved the dates of late calving cows up an average of 30+ days in his on-farm trials.

In this 3 minute excerpt from his presentation, Anderson explains Continue reading

The Calving Stall

Steve Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

Most modern cattlemen have some type of facility for holding or restraining cattle that need assistance at calving. This stall need not be elaborate or expensive, but it should be handy and useful. This article sets forth some of the things to consider before installing such a stall or for evaluating your present facility.

The objective of a calving stall is to provide an environment that is safe and useful to you and your veterinarian when assisting at calving. This stall will generally pay for itself in short order in calves saved and cows treated properly and promptly. Some of the tasks made easier with a calving stall include performing cesarean sections, cleaning a retained placenta, assisting calves presented for birth in the wrong position, milking out cows, fostering calves and medicating cows requiring follow-up treatments. It allows the producer to quickly estimate the situation and take appropriate action on their own or with professional help.

A good calving stall should meet the following Continue reading