In this season, many of your herds are calving, so choosing bulls and synchronizing your cows for the next breeding is probably the last thing on your busy mind. However, the next breeding day will be upon you before you know it. Thankfully, nobody knows how to prepare for that season quiet like our professional All West Beef Representatives. Our team delivers more than just the semen, but also the guidance and expertise to guide our customers through every step of the breeding process as a trusted partner.
Independent Beef Sales Representative Adrienne Lulay is sharing her five steps to prepare both yourself and your herd for the next successful breeding season.
#1. Determine your desired calving date.
First, figure out what your ideal calving date will be. Do you need to adjust it this year? Keep in mind that the earliest you can breed back a cow is 45 days after calving and you will need to use a CIDR protocol to “jump start” her. Do you need to start your heifers a cycle (21 days) before the cows, as well? The other thing to remember is that calves sired by calving ease bulls can come two weeks early. So, you need to be prepared for those early calves! Study the beef gestation chart and consult with your All West Beef Representative to determine a schedule.
#2. Examine your cow’s body condition and nutrition.
Post-calving and breeding are two of the most taxing times for a cow. First, she has her maintenance needs. Her uterus needs to involute (repair itself) and shrink back down and she has to feed her calf. On top of this, she may also be dealing with some nasty weather. Coming back into heat is her last priority, especially if she is a first-calf heifer who is still growing. So, do you best to keep your cows at a Body Condition Score of 5. Additionally, a good mineral needs to be available to the cows at all times!
#3. Stay up-to-date on vaccinations and dewormer.
It is very important that vaccinations are done well before breeding. When you vaccinate a cow, especially with a modified live vaccine, her body will mount an immune response with the peak of the response occurring about two weeks after the vaccination. If you vaccinate close to breeding, the cow’s immune system is on high alert, so you are not setting up a good environment for an embryo to implant. Try to administer vaccines about a month before breeding. If you are using the 14-day CIDR protocol on heifers, the day you insert CIDRs is approximately a month before breeding. This is a great opportunity to optimize a trip through the chute. This is also a good time to do heifer pelvic scores and evaluate reproductive tracts. Also, evaluate whether your cows need a deworming or lice treatment. They certainly don’t need any extra mouths to feed!
#4. Choose your estrus synchronization plan.
There are several newer synchronization plans that need to be started a few weeks to a month before the breeding date. Therefore, it is imperative that you have all of your synchronization dates scheduled out and your CIDRs, hormones, and Estrotect Breeding Indicators (available from your All West Beef Representative) ordered and ready to go. The synchronization protocols can conveniently be found in the back of the Select Sires Beef Sire Directory. However, if your eyes glaze over at all of this information, we recommend taking a further look at estrussynch.com. This tool helps tailor a plan for your herd and will produce a schedule including exact dates and times that CIDRs need to go in, be pulled out, and when heat detection and breeding should be performed.
#5. Make your sire selection.
Choosing the bulls you are going to use in your breeding project can be daunting! First, you need to decide what traits are most important to you in your herd and how you market your cattle. You can sort the bulls on the Select Sires website with a handy EPD sorting tool. It will compile a list of bulls that fit your desired EPD characteristics. Still not sure who you want to use? Ask your All West Beef Representative what he or she recommends and why! Talking “bull” is one of our favorite things to do! Please note, it is important to give your representative at least three weeks notice to get the bulls you want to use in your tank, as it is a very demanding time of year for our bulls and their product must be shipped to All West Territory.
As always, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and ask us your questions! We love our job and your success is the best part of it!
Written by: Adrienne Lulay, Independent Beef Sales Representative