Taking shortcuts on a beef cattle operation can have advantages but can also produce some undesirable or unintended consequences. Sometimes taking the easy route can be a recipe for disaster in terms of production output, animal value, and/or profitability.
There are many potential pitfalls for producers looking to cut corners to save time, labor, or money. It is important to recognize the potential consequences of these shortcuts before implementing them. By spending more effort and resources up front, often less effort and fewer resources are needed in the long run and more productivity occurs.
Examples of shortcuts in genetics, health, nutrition, and reproduction are listed below along with possible outcomes.
- Buying a “cheap” bull with lower quality genetics.Potential consequences: fewer live calves, lower calf value, less productive raised replacement females, lower bull salvage value
- Using a bull with no EPDs. Potential consequences: fewer live calves, lower calf value, less productive raised replacement females, lower bull salvage value
- Not tracking herd performance. Potential consequences: less productive cows and bulls retained, lower calf value, higher cost per calf, less productive replacement females
- Not using performance data (EPDs in seedstock operations) in selection and culling decisions. Potential consequences: less productive cows and bulls retained, lower calf value, higher cost per calf, less productive replacement females
- Not taking advantage of a well-planned crossbreeding program. Potential consequences: reduced direct and maternal heterosis, lower reproductive performance of raised replacements, shorter productive life of raised females, more replacements needed, reduced calf survivability, lower weaning weights
Shortchanging Herd Health
- Ignoring internal parasite control. Potential consequences: reduced average daily gains, lower milk production, poor rebreeding performance, reduced appetite and intake, tissue damage, protein loss, fluid loss, anemia, impaired immune function
- Ignoring external parasite control. Potential consequences: disease spread, reduced average daily gains, lower milk production, poor rebreeding performance, anemia, hide damage
- Not implementing a biological risk management (biosecurity) plan. Potential consequences: greater disease exposure, higher risk of infectious disease spread and possible outbreak, disease control more difficult, greater health risk to cattle and humans, increased chance of production losses
- Not implementing an appropriate vaccination program. Potential consequences: higher disease risk, increased chance of productionlosses, higher treatment costs, reduced product value, greater cattle death loss
- Not seeking veterinary assistance when needed. Potential consequences: production losses, more risk of a treatable conditionprogressing to an untreatable state, increased animal suffering, higher cattle death loss, greater disease risk for healthy cattle in the herd