Friday, July 8, 2011

Husbandry: Bull Pastures Increase Profits

Bull management is an important part of running beef cows. A key to successful bull management is having and using a bull pasture according to University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist Eldon Cole.

"This is the time of year when owners of well-managed cattle herds are pulling their bulls from their cow herds," said Cole. "The bulls likely were put with the cows and heifers in late April and by early July they've had a 75 to 90 day breeding season.

According to Cole, females should have cycled and had the opportunity to breed two to possibly four times during that period depending on their calving date and interval from then to first heat.

"By having a well defined breeding season you should have a closer bunched, more uniform set of calves. This is an asset at marketing time as larger groups of uniform calves typically sell for a higher price."

The price of the heifer calves should also be higher as they are less likely to have been bred by the bulls if they are removed before the heifers reach puberty.

Research consistently shows that as temperatures warm up, conception rates go down and the calf crop becomes more strung out if the bulls remain with the cows. This is especially true in fescue country as the endophyte problem or heat stress adds insult injury as summer temperatures climb.

A University of Kentucky trial found a breeding season from April 21 to June 5 resulted in an 89 percent pregnancy rate. A breeding season from May 21 to July 6 resulted in 78 percent of the cows becoming pregnant. Only 59 percent of the cows settled when bred from June 19 to Aug. 4.

An Oklahoma State report compared records from 394 Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico ranches. Those records show a 75-day breeding season, compared to those leaving the bull with the cows year round, resulted in a reduced cost of $13.63 for producing 100 pounds of calf.

"In other words, it makes economic sense to control the breeding season," said Cole.

Source: Eldon Cole (417) 466-3102