Open and Late Calving Cows: The Conundrum

Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Figuring out why we have a late calving female is important when deciding to keep or cull.

Being that most of the spring calving cow herds in Ohio and beyond have calved, and breeding season is upon us, there is a cow conundrum that we need to discuss. In the 9 or months that I have been in this position, my favorite questions to answer have quickly become “how quickly can I rebreed a late calving cow?” or “I have a spring calving cow that calved late or never calved at all, can I roll her over to the fall?”

The answers to both of those questions are yes, as I do not have the final say as to what cattlemen can or cannot do on their operations. As someone who is often asked for recommendations on this topic, the real question is should we hang onto those late calving and open females?

Open Cows

In most cases involving open cows the answer to that question is no, they should be in the cull pen. Open cows are a profit drain, no matter if we can roll them over or not. At the simplest form; Profit = Continue reading

Make Plans Now for 2021 OCA Replacement Female Sale

In 2020, 83 total lots grossed $159,025 for an overall average of $1,844

The 2021 date for the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) ninth annual Replacement Female Sale will be Friday evening, November 26. The sale will be held at the Muskingum Livestock Auction Co. in Zanesville, Ohio and will begin at 6:00 p.m.

The 2021 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, 2022 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 Continue reading

Managing the Breeding Season and Reproductive Performance of the Beef Herd

The fourth session of this past winter’s 2021 Ohio Beef Cattle Management School was hosted via ZOOM by the Ohio State University Extension Beef Team on February 8th. During that fourth session the focus turned to genetics, reproduction and breeding management. More specifically, in the portion of the evening’s program embedded below, OSU Extension Beef Field Specialist Garth Ruff introduces Alvaro Garcia Guerra, Assistant Professor for cattle reproduction in the Department of Animal Science at Ohio State, as he discusses considerations for managing the breeding season and factors that will maximize pregnancy rates including bull management, the use of estrus synchronization programs and artificial insemination in the beef herd.

Keep an Eye on that Bull

– Dr. Les Anderson, Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

Many producers with spring calving herds just turned out their bulls. In the May Off the Hoof, we reminded everyone to subject their herd bulls to a breeding soundness exam (BSE). A BSE is the best insurance we have available to ensure we don’t turn out a bull that is infertile or incapable of breeding cows. However, the BSE does not indicate if the bull is willing to breed cows. I was reminded of this very recently in the herd that I used for the “I bought a farm” YouTube video series. To get these heifers bred, we synchronized them for AI and then turned out a mature bull that had passed a BSE. When I inseminated these heifers, the weather turned very poor (middle of December) and the estrus response rate in the heifers was low, so I wasn’t expecting high conception rates to AI. Just to get an idea of how well we did, I spent some time in the pasture watching for return heats. As I expected, several heifers had return heats but what really stuck out was the bull was NOT breeding them. Some of the heifers were jumping on the bull and he seemed disinterested. I was concerned about the bull and told the owner that he needed to consider finding another bull. I could not assure him the bull was Continue reading

Profiting on Cull Cattle

Dean Kreager, Ohio State University Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Licking County (originally published in Ohio Farmer on-line)

Teat or udder problems are just one reason for considering culling a cow.

As cattle producers we often look at ways to improve our bottom line. Where can we profit the most from our production? Is it from sales of feeder calves, breeding stock, finished cattle, freezer beef or some combination? This decision may change from year to year based on economic conditions, feed availability, and facilities.

One type of sale that sometimes gets overlooked is the sale of cull animals. National studies estimate the value of these sales amounts to 15 – 30% of the revenue for beef farms. These culls make up 20% of the beef consumed. Considering the value and importance of these animals to the supply chain we should look at ways that we can manage them to increase our profits.

Hoof or leg issues are another reason to consider culling.

There are many reasons for culling animals. Physical problems, poor performance, age, reproduction, and Continue reading

Management Considerations for Beef x Dairy Calves

Regardless the genetics of cattle you’re feeding, you will find value in listening to this three part webinar series.

While dairy steers have been an important part of the beef supply chain for some time, feeding half blood dairy steers sired by beef bulls has become a popular and more common practice in recent years. During the spring of 2021, Garth Ruff, Ohio State University Extension Beef Field Specialist, and Jerad Jaborek, Feedlot Systems Extension Educator at Michigan State University, hosted a three part webinar series on management considerations for beef sired calves from dairy cows that covered a variety of topics related to marketing, genetics, and management of crossbred beef x dairy cattle.

During the first session (embedded below) held on April 21 the focus was on marketing dairy beef calves and featured Larry Rose and JT Loewe of JBS as they discussed the quality of the cattle they seek to purchase, their pricing structure, and the demands they have for high quality, consistently sized and correctly finished dairy crossed beef cattle. Regardless the genetics being fed, the speakers shared a strong message for the value of consistency and proper finish the market is demanding in all fed cattle Continue reading

Beef Bull Monitoring Research Project

Participate in this study and find out if your bulls are working full time.

Reproduction is a primary determinant of cow calf production efficiency. Breeding soundness exams (BSE) are helpful in identifying bulls with poor fertility prior to the breeding season. However, BSEs are not reliable in identifying the potential for breeding impediments that develop during the breeding season such as injury or foot rot which can have devastating effects on pregnancy rates. In addition, BSEs do not adequately evaluate libido and mating ability of bulls which has been shown to directly impact pregnancy rates.

In an effort to identify breeding impediments that may occur during the breeding season and measure the libido of bulls in multiple sire pastures, Ohio State University Cattle Reproductive Professor Dr. Alvaro Garcia-Guerra has initiated a research study that you are invited to participate in. If you have Continue reading

Don’t Forget a Breeding Soundness Exam

– Dr. Les Anderson, Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

The spring breeding season is here and hopefully your herd is prepared. One key management tool we can use to reduce the risk of pregnancy failures is getting a breeding soundness examination on your bulls.

A breeding soundness examination is done by a veterinarian, costs $50-100, and is a producer’s only method to assess the breeding capability of their herd sire(s). Breeding soundness exams accurately determine bulls who cannot produce normal sperm cells and bulls who are no longer capable of breeding cows due to injury or a physical ailment.

Breeding soundness exams should be Continue reading

Matching Nutrient Intake to the Production Cycle of Beef Cows

Allen Gahler, Extension Educator for Agriculture and Natural Resources, OSU Extension-Sandusky County (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman)

Could we reduce our total feed needs by more correctly matching the breeding season to our feed resources?

Whether you are jumping into or preparing for breeding season, or you calve in the fall and have recently turned out mid gestation cows, you certainly have had a lower feed bill on your mind as the winter feeding period comes to an end. That lower feed bill is usually a welcome beginning to a new growing season, and the worry of making it through another winter is replaced by the worry of making the right breeding decisions and weaning off a profitable calf crop.  But perhaps we could alleviate some of those other worries by focusing more on the timing of the breeding season as it relates to what we are feeding them, rather than which bull matches better with each group of cows and which bull is truly heifer safe.

What I am talking about is stepping back and taking a good hard look at when we calve and comparing it to the quality of our available feed at Continue reading

The energy requirements for an Angus beef cow throughout her annual production cycle

– Kirsten Nickles, Graduate Research Associate and Anthony J. Parker, Associate Chair and Associate Professor. Department of Animal Sciences, Ohio State University.

The nutritional requirements for beef cows change daily throughout their annual production cycle. The frequent change in requirements is caused by varying stages of production and environmental factors that affect the cow’s behavior and energy use. To give an example, a spring calving beef cow gestating throughout winter will have energy requirements for maintenance and gestation, and there may be further requirements for cold stress if winter climatic conditions place the cow outside her zone of thermal comfort. To appreciate how great the total net energy cost of a beef cow can be we have included the net energy requirements in Mcal/day throughout the annual production cycle of a mature 1200 lb Angus cow with a peak milk yield (PMY) of 18 pounds (Figure 1).  We included the requirements for maintenance, lactation, and gestation and assume this all occurs without any cold or heat stress on the cow. It is noteworthy to consider that thermal stress can elevate the requirement for maintenance substantially.

Figure 1. The energy requirements (Mcal/day) for an Angus beef cow throughout her annual production cycle.

Many beef cattle producers would agree that the Continue reading