Favorable markets call for a fresh look at your breeding

The beef industry has standards of excellence when it comes to breeding – 85 days to breed, a 60 day calving window and cows in body condition of 6. These numbers are especially important when looking to pull advantage of the improvement of cattle markets. CattleFax 2022 outlook predicts 550-pound calves will cost $225/cwt1. Using these gold standards to get more calves and pounds, with bargain prices, means more potential dollars in your pocket.

The management decisions you make for your herd now don’t just affect this breeding season. Achieving your goals now can impact your bottom line for years to come. Here are three proven nutritional tips for making the most of favorable market conditions:

1. Make minerals the foundation of your livestock nutrition program.

Providing mineral and vitamin supplements to livestock helps maintain a consistent body condition score (BCS) throughout the year for better reproductive success.

Minerals repair the reproductive system

Cows managed for optimum body condition at calving (6 BCS) reproduce with conception rates of 88% or more.2 Livestock minerals help repair a cow’s reproductive system after calving and prepare for reproduction. If her tract is not fully repaired, a cow may have difficulty reproducing or not reproduce at all.

Nutrition has an impact on several generations

At any time, a productive beef cow eats for two or three. She is probably bred, carrying a fetus and/or can still nurse a calf. The nutrients the calf receives in utero and later can impact its future reproductive abilities. Additionally, livestock nutrition can impact several generations of the herd. Maternal nutrition can impact the future fertility of replacement heifers.

Remember: Don’t make the mistake of thinking your forages will provide all the minerals your livestock need to thrive. If you don’t provide minerals to livestock year-round, you leave reproductive success and overall profitability up to chance.

2. Regularly record and monitor the body condition score.

If you don’t assess your fitness regularly, it’s time to start.

When to Collect Body Condition Scores

Collect scores 60 days before calving, at calving/pre-breeding and at weaning. It is very important to record body condition 60 days before calving because the condition a cow calves in impacts how quickly she will return to estrus.

The money is in the score

A good body condition score can reduce the postpartum interval, so cows breed earlier in the cattle breeding season. Cows bred earlier in the season have calves born earlier in the calving window, which translates to more weaning weight. Also, if you estimate that a calf can gain between 2.25 and 2.5 pounds per day, each heat cycle is worth about 50 pounds.

Submitted by Purina Animal Nutrition

Even a one point difference in body condition score can have a major impact on reproduction.

A body condition score of 6 is ideal and every point counts. Refer to the chart to see how a single point change in BCS impacts returns to estrus and confirmed pregnancies.

3. Act on body condition score and forage conditions.

Turning valuable body condition data into action is essential. Regularly monitor scores so you can adjust livestock nutrition plans in real time.

Proactively monitor forage to avoid a low body condition score

Do not forget to monitor the quality of the fodder. When forage quality is less than ideal, consider supplementing before cows begin to lose condition. Once cows have lost their condition, it can be expensive to get them back. A proactive approach to supplementation is best.

Supplement forage with cattle supplements

Cattle supplements with intake modification technology can provide nutrients to supplement your forage and maintain a cow’s body condition in all seasons. If cows need more nutrients, they will consume more cattle supplements; if cows get the nutrition they need from forage, they will consume less.

Never let your cows have a bad day.

Prepare your cows for success by providing them with quality mineral and protein/energy supplements. A quality, year-round livestock nutrition program supports improved reproductive rates and increases the profit potential of the operation.

1 CattleFax Outlook Session, 2022 NCBA Cattle Industry Convention

2 Rasby, RJ, Stalker, A., and Funston, RN Assessing the body condition of beef cows: a tool for managing the nutrition program of beef herds. Retrieved November 2, 2017 from: http://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/pdf/ec281.