As the calving season winds down and ranchers look ahead to breeding season and related genetic decisions, Kansas State University Extension Beef Specialist Twig Marston offers several suggestions.
- Palpate and score replacement heifers’ reproductive tracts. Cull heifers with infantile tracts.
- Yearling weight of replacement heifers can be used to determine plan of nutrition needed to achieve target breeding weight.
- Consider breeding heifers three weeks prior to the mature cowherd to give them a greater chance to rebreed.
- Consider using MGA and prostaglandin or some other estrous synchronization program and artificial insemination (AI) to decrease calving difficulty and increase the value of next year’s calf crop. For thin cows, consider 48-hour calf removal and “teasing” with a gomerized bull prior to the breeding season.
- Plan breeding season and bull turn out. Assign yearlings ten to 15 cows; two- and three-year-olds 20 to 25 cows, older bulls 25 to 40 cows. Ninety days should be long enough, 65 days optimum.
- When purchasing bulls, insist on performance records and EPDs to base selection criteria.
- Order semen and AI supplies well in advance of usage. Check semen tanks for leakage.
- Record yearling weights and submit records to breed associations for genetic evaluation.
- Record calving information permanently.
- Replace lost or worn eartags.
- Good fences and good brands make good neighbors.
- Check equipment (sprayers, dust bags, oilers, haying equipment) and repair or replace as needed. Have spare parts on hand, down time can make a difference in hay quality.