Profit or loss in a cow/calf operation depends a great deal on the reproductive efficiency of the herd. For obvious reasons herds that have a high percentage of cows that settle early in the breeding season and deliver live calves are much more likely to be profitable.
Successful and profitable reproduction involves a number of key components. Factors such as pregnancy rates, calf death loss, and culling rates all play a role. Just as a chain is only as strong as the weak link, a problem in one area can undo exceptional results in another. The challenge is keeping track of the data and then using that information to drive management decisions.
Using the score card in your operation
To help producers track critical management factors that affect reproductive success, SDSU Extension has developed a Beef Management and Reproduction Score Card. This score card allows producers to record basic production data such as average body condition score at calving, calving distribution data, calf death loss and pregnancy rates. A set of definitions and standard formulas for each of the factors accompany the score card.
Producers can use this information to help determine the strengths of the operation and pinpoint areas that may need more attention. For instance, if a ranch’s percentage of weaned calves was lower than desired, this tool could help identify if the problem was pregnancy rates, pregnancy losses before calving, calf death loss, or some combination of these factors. The score card could also serve as a method of comparing the performance of an individual cowherd with industry averages or benchmarks.