Pregnancy checking spring-calving cows

Producer Question from 2014

Q.  I am thinking of pregnancy checking my spring-calving cows early this fall and then exposing any non-pregnant cows to bulls and selling the pregnant cows as fall calving cows. Any thoughts? (Oct 1, 2014)

A.  Not all cow/calf operations across the country calve at the same time. Because cow inventory is low, pregnant beef females are worth a lot of money.

Most non-pregnant cows are usually a result of management, nutrition or the genetic make-up does not fit the resources, and not a result of fertility issues. The reason for saying that is they have been pregnant at least once.

The majority of non-pregnant cows in a cow herd are either young cows (2 and 3 year-olds) or old cows. I would suggest not exposing the old cows to a bull and sell them as weigh-up culls. The price for cull cows is good. I would not expose any of the other non-pregnant cows if they had:

  1. Structure problems
  2. Disposition problems
  3. Calving problems, c-section, a prolapse (either vaginal or uterine), wouldn't claim her calf
  4. Udder or teat problems

Make sure your vaccination program for reproductive diseases is current. Discuss your plan with your veterinarian. Especially ask about Trichomoniasis as you would want to make sure cows are not pregnant because of this disease.

Consider doing a partial budget to make sure it makes economic sense to do this. You can get help at your extension office for developing a partial budget.

If cows have passed these threshold criteria and it is economical to do, consider using a short breeding season.

Rick Rasby
Extension Beef Specialist
University of Nebraska–Lincoln