Achieving good calving and weaning percentages is probably the most important aspect of cow-calf production. It is even more important than controlling feed cost because without a calf, any cost is too high. Dave Paterson, reproductive specialist on the Beef Focus Team at the University of Missouri, poses these eight questions for trouble shooting a reproductive management program.

  • What is the total number of females that were exposed to bulls to produce this calf crop?
  • How many open females were removed from the herd?
  • How many pregnant females were purchased and placed in the herd between breeding and calving?
  • How many females calved, and how many of them weaned a calf?
  • What was the length of the breeding season for various age groups of females in the herd?
  • How many calves died in the first five days following birth? how many died from birth to weaning?
  • How many cows died in the last year?
  • How many females calved in the first 21 days of the calving period? How many in the first 42 days?



Producers unable to answer these questions have inadequate information to weigh whether they are doing well with their cowherd. Problems in any of these areas will likely be rooted in management-related practices. Adequate recordkeeping is essential to know what to fix.