A cow that does not breed back one year will lose 15 percent to 20 percent of her lifetime production potential. And she will require the net return from two or three other cows to cover her maintenance costs for that year alone.

Producers face a difficult decision when a cow does not wean a calf but was determined to be bred when the herd was pregnancy checked. From a business standpoint, there should be some return from that cow-calf unit each year, even if it is only the cow's salvage value. However, the cost of developing replacements to the point where she produces some return in the form of a weaned calf might suggest keeping the cow if the reason for her not weaning a calf was due to something other than calving difficulty.

Her chances to remain improve if she rebreeds early. This is where complete records can help you. If the cow is an above average producer, has not missed weaning a calf before and is relatively young, it could be advantageous to keep her. However, if you've developed an effective genetic improvement program through superior sire selection, the improved performance in a bred heifer in comparison to a below-average cow could make up the production difference between the two.