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Breeding season is important for beef profitability.

The breeding season traditionally is an important time for producers and could impact beef profitability in 2001.

"Breeding season is a time when the size and quality of next year's calf-crop is determined," stated John Anderson, Extension agricultural economist for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. "Given the importance of this time of year to the overall economic well-being of the beef operation, it is worthwhile to give some extra thought to the kinds of management that could improve efficiency in beef herds."

Every aspect of beef cattle management will have an impact on the herd's reproductive efficiency. For example, both herd health and nutrition programs directly influence calving percentages. Adequate nutrition is vital for a breeding herd, since cows in poor condition are not likely to conceive. Adequate herd health programs are crucial, since common diseases can prevent cows from maintaining healthy pregnancies.

To put the importance of proper nutrition and health programs in perspective, consider that in a 10-cow herd, a 10-percent increase in calving percentage corresponds to an additional calf or, using last fall's prices, about $500. That is an additional $50 per cow in returns. Clearly, that amount can be the difference between making a profit and going out of business.

Another factor that can have a dramatic impact on calving rates, and on beef operation returns, is the fertility of the herd bull. A good way to make sure a bull is ready-to-go for breeding season is a breeding soundness evaluation. Anderson believes the evaluation is a simple and inexpensive way to realize a bull's potential. After all, even a marginal improvement in calving percentage can have a dramatic impact on the beef operation's bottom line.

When thinking about bulls, another important consideration is bull quality.

"Buying an inexpensive bull often can be the last way you want to try to save money," Anderson warned. "Saving $500 on a questionable bull can easily cost you more than $1,000 in lost revenue in a single year."

Cooperative Extension Services have a variety of resources available to help with any aspect of beef-herd management.

Cow College ... for humans

It's called "Cow College," a five-session program covering a variety of topics that are critical for improving your profits in beef production. Much of the instruction is hands-on.

"The thing that sets Cow College apart from other training is the hands-on aspect," said Les Anderson, Extension beef production specialist at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. "In other words we teach you how to put implants in, how to castrate, how to do pregnancy diagnosis, how to do artificial insemination, and we teach you these things out in the corral working with the animals."

Most of the sessions are conducted in Lexington, with two sessions at Princeton in western Kentucky. Costs for Cow College are $600 for all five sessions, or $150 per session. The for covers all materials and meals. Participants do not have to attend all sessions this year. A $100 deposit is required. This year's dates for the five sessions are July 11-12, July 27-28, August 8-9, October 11-12. and November 1.

For more information, contact Les Anderson, UK Department of Animal Science, 811 W. P. Garrigus Building, Lexington, KY 40546-0215. (606) 257-2856.
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Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jul 1, 2000
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