Brooks (Rural Roots Canada) – Defining reproduction success in your cattle herd goes beyond its pregnancy rate.

Dr. Blake Balog is a veterinarian and the owner of Bow Valley Livestock Health in Brooks, Alberta.

He says it starts by defining the herd’s breeding season.

“So, reproductive success to me needs to be broken down on the fact that if you are breeding cows, we should be talking 60-days if you have a longer breeding season, the critters are falling off the map, and you are really not managing your operation, you’re not ranching in that case, they’re a hobby, Balog said.

He says there can be a little more discussion around heifers, but ideally, a producer should aim from around 45-days.

“We have producers in this area (southeast Alberta) who are going down to 21 or 30 day breeding seasons on their heifers, and that’s just helping set-up reproductive momentum  in those groups and I would even push that you should be trying to breed those two to three weeks before the cows.”

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Balog says calving distribution is also important.

“We should be sitting at 60 – 70 per cent in the first cycle. Everyone tells me that they have this, but no one has calving records to back that up.

He says this prompted his practice to start offering this service when they carry out preg check.

“If we are preg checking early enough, what we do for our producers, is we actually stage those pregnancies break down for them, this is how many you are expecting to calve in the first cycle, second and third cycles, of course, we’re limited if we are preg checking too late in the season we really can’t do that or if that is the case you can reproduce that from just your calving records.”

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He says farmers can then look at pregnancy percentage.

“I think on a cow herd of 60-day exposure, if you are doing everything right, we should be able to get 95 per cent right, heifers exposed on 45-day we should be able to get 85 per cent right.”

Balog presented at RRC Virtual Ag Days in July 2020.