With calving season still ongoing, it may seem like jumping the gun to start talking about breeding heifers. However, if you want to improve your outcome when it comes to heifer pregnancy rates or heifers bred in the first cycle, now is the time to start considering your options. After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Sale season is here and in full swing and if you haven’t purchased your next herd bull already, you may still be planning on it. So after you write the check and load him up, there are things you can do to make sure that your new bull lives up to your expectations and his genetic potential.
Most of the bulls sold are just yearlings. They are far from done growing and we need to remember that when we haul him home and put him in back 40 until we are done calving. These bulls need to be maintained on a high level of nutrition, including protein, energy, vitamins and minerals in order for him to be a successful breeder in a couple of months. Protein required for young bulls will vary but around 10-13% protein would be necessary to keep him growing, putting on muscle, and priming the immune system. Energy required is going to be the most variable nutrient. If we get the bulls overly fat, then the fat in scrotum can negatively impact semen quality. However, if the bulls are underfed, they don’t grow properly and won’t have the body condition necessary to make it through the breeding season as an active breeder or be able to cover all of the cows you expect he should. Bulls could lose 100-200 lbs during the breeding season, so we want those bulls to be in AT LEAST a BCS 5 prior to turn out.
It is the time of year to start weaning spring-born calves. And after this spring, we are about to put calves through the 2nd most stressful day of their life. It pays to do this job right and get the calves the off to the best start possible.
It is hard to believe that fall is just around the corner. And in parts of the Dakotas, the forage and crops already look like fall. The impact of last year’s drought and a shortage of late summer rains have resulted in significant forage shortfalls and crop challenges. As we transition into the fall, we need to think about fall grazing option for the cow herd.