This week, BEEF teamed up with Neogen to celebrate calving season on the ranch.
This has been a fun way to highlight our wonderful BEEF readers and see a small glimpse of your cattle operations! We are still open for photo submissions until April 19, so feel free to continue to send us calving photos to [email protected] or [email protected], and we will get them added to our gallery.
Also, be sure to check out our Seedstock 100 resources to learn more about the high-volume seedstock cattle companies across the country.
And while our attention has been drawn to those newborn calves through these photographs; At our ranch, we have already transitioned to the breeding season. Our breeding protocols through artificial insemination are in full swing, and soon, we’ll be thinking about turning cow-calf pairs to grass and exposing those females to our cleanup bulls.
Much like calving season, breeding season requires some preparation and work to ensure you are successful in achieving your goals for the upcoming year. Today, I’ve compiled a list of supplies and to-do items to accomplish as you get ready for next year’s calf crop.
1. Make your genetic selections
Whether you do embryo transfers, artificial insemination or natural breeding, it’s critical to take some time to evaluate your genetic pairings and match up bulls that will best compliment your females.
What are your goals for these pairings? Is it to improve calving ease? Focus on other EPDs like marbling or weaning weight? Is it to eliminate horns or specific coloring? Whatever you’re seeking to improve upon or if you’re hoping to repeat an awesome mating from the year previous, it takes a little bit of homework ahead of time to ensure you’re matching up buns with the correct cows.
2. Gather supplies
Your breeding supplies might include an artificial insemination gun, long plastic gloves, sheaths, thaw unit, tweezer, thermometer, water thermos, straw cutter, lubrication, gestation calendar, semen inventory list or an updated app, semen tank and units of semen.
When is the last time you’ve filled your semen tank? Did you order semen early enough to allow ample time for shipping and any delays? What is your inventory on hand? Do you have your supplies organized and ready to grab?
3. Ready the females
Are you following any synchronization protocols? What products do you need? When do you need to start to meet your breeding window? Do you need any additional products for heat detection to help you identify which cows are ready to breed? Are you brushed up on the breeding protocols to ensure you are executing them properly?
If you are synchronizing and artificially inseminating, do you have labor lined up to assist you if needed? Coordinate your help and then determine the best dates for cows to be coming into heat. You would hate to be caught off guard because the kids are gone for a track meet on the same day you scheduled the bulk of your cows to be bred! Check in with your family and any off-farm labor as you plan.
5. Breeding soundness exams
Don’t forget the bulls! A breeding soundness examination before summer turnout is critical to ensure your herd sires are ready to work. Make sure your bulls are realistically able to cover the ground and the number of cows without falling behind. Then either add more bulls to a large grouping or break off into smaller groups and grazing paddocks for specific matings.
6. Prepare for turnout
How are those summer pasture fences looking? Take some time to fix broken wires, secure fence posts and ready your paddocks and large pastures for the grazing season. The last thing you want is for a group of yearling heifers to bust through the fence or the yearling bull to get looking at the neighbor’s cows on the other side of the barbed wire.
What else would you add to this list? Cheers to a successful calving season and to looking ahead with optimism to the upcoming breeding season and next year’s calf crop!
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.