For a cow-calf enterprise, the second largest expense after grazed and harvested feed is often overhead expenses related to labor and equipment. In ranching, an overhead expense is one that doesn’t change very much based on the number of cows that are in production. For example, the pickup, tractor, ATV, trailer, feeding equipment, and working facilities used to care for 150 cows would also likely be adequate to care for 500 cows. On a cost per cow unit basis, spreading that equipment cost over 500 cows versus 150 cows drastically reduces the equipment cost per cow.
With spring calving in full swing, it is a good time to start thinking about if your cows are prepared for breeding season. Making sure your cows are in a good body condition score prior to calving is one of the most important steps to ensuring your cows stay on track to rebreed whether you plan to turn bulls out, synchronize, AI, or a combination. If you plan to utilize synchronization to tighten your breeding season, there are a few things you should consider.
Good Year-Round Nutrition and Adequate Body Condition Score (BCS)
Conducting rangeland monitoring is an important task to help managers understand how rangeland management practices affect plant communities and soil health. A network of knowledge exchange between cattle producers and scientists can help this data become more meaningful and useful in an adaptive rangeland management framework. The Sandhills Rangeland Monitoring Cooperative (SRMC) is a new collaborative project between UNL Extension and cattle producers in the Nebraska Sandhills.
The Nebraska Range Short Course is scheduled for June 22 to 25, 2020 on the campus of Chadron State College. The short course is sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Chadron State College, and the Nebraska Section of the Society for Range Management. It is designed to provide individuals who have a background in ranch, natural resource, or wildlife management an opportunity to increase their knowledge in many topics associated with the field of range management.
Artificial insemination (AI) is the most powerful tool cow-calf producers have to improve beef cattle genetics. Still, they have been slow to adopt this technology due to the time and labor of heat checking and a market structure that until recently did not reward genetic improvement. However, markets are now rewarding improved genetics (e.g. premiums) and improved fixed time AI (FTAI) protocols make it easier for the cow-calf producer to use AI.
Have you wanted to have more calves born earlier in your calving season, but did not want to deal with the increase in labor, cost and facilities to utilize estrus synchronization and artificial insemination? The protocol shown (Figure 1.) can increase the number of cows coming into estrus early in the breeding season, with one time through the chute, one injection, and breeding using only natural service.
For most producers the spring breeding season is still a ways off, but now is a good time to review estrus synchronization protocols and develop a plan for this year. There are several Extension resources that can be helpful in preparing for the upcoming breeding season.
While Mother Nature has been giving us small tastes of spring, then pulling right back, the reminder that pasture green up is just around the corner shouldn’t be ignored. One of the earliest species we see greening up is cheatgrass (also called Downy brome, Bromus tectorum). This invasive species is found throughout Nebraska but is most prevalent on rangelands in the western portion of the state. Early spring is a good time to begin planning for cheatgrass management.