Animal scientist gives breeding season preparation tips

March 31, 2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – With the start of the spring breeding season approaching for many producers, a Purdue University animal scientist said there are several aspects to ensuring a successful breeding season.

Allen Bridges said that producers should make sure cows and bulls are ready by performing breeding soundness exams, ensuring animals have proper nutrition and evaluating their breeding programs.

"Breeding soundness exams should be performed on bulls," Bridges said. "You don't want to trust the success of your breeding season to a bull that may not be fertile. Cows should have proper nutrition and an adequate body condition score of 5.5 on a scale of 1 to 9.

"One of the biggest keys to having successful reproductive performance is having both cows and bulls in the appropriate body condition at the start of the breeding season. Good nutrition and good reproduction go hand-in-hand."

Bridges said it is important that the nutrition program provides the appropriate minerals and vitamins. Cows also should be up-to-date on all vaccinations and herd health programs, and producers should with a veterinarian to develop a comprehensive vaccination program.

Another important aspect to consider when planning is the length of the breeding season, which impacts the duration of the calving season.

"I typically recommend producers have as condensed a breeding season as possible," he said. "This condenses the calving season and gets a more uniform calf crop."

Producers also should consider using estrous synchronization and artificial insemination (AI). Bridges said producers should consider these reproductive technologies because of the economic and managerial benefits they provide.

"Estrous synchronization and AI offer beef producers several advantages," he said. "These programs allow more females to conceive earlier in the breeding season, which results in a more uniform calf crop and heavier calves at weaning. Additionally, using AI allows producers to raise genetically superior sires and select sires that have traits desirable for your operation and your market."

For most producers in Indiana, the beef breeding season takes place from the end of April through May.

Writer: Elise Brown, 765-496-7481, brown222@purdue.edu

Source: Allen Bridges, 765-494-4810, allenbridges@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-8415;
Steve Leer, sleer@purdue.edu
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