Beef Cattle: Breeding and Reproduction

The producer must provide management to control the reproduction of the cow-calf operation. Reproductive performance is influenced more by management and environment than through genetics. The cow-calf producer must exercise control over the factors that impact reproduction: nutrition, age, health and management. New technologies in reproduction offer the producer opportunity to have greater control over reproduction. However, the benefit of these technologies cannot be realized unless the basic management practices are executed. To have control over the factors that impact performance and profitability, the producer must manage reproduction of the commercial cow-calf herd.

Information and Resources

Link Pointer Importance of Information in the Tennessee Bull Market
Bull selection is one of the most important decisions seedstock and commercial cattle producers make. Selecting quality sires for breeding (i.e., bulls, semen) is key to enhancing an operation’s long-term profitability while also accelerating the genetic progress of beef cattle herds. Cattle breeders use genetic-, visual- and social-based information to make their decisions. This publication provides insights from a survey of Tennessee producers and what they indicated as important regarding EPDs and other forms of information used when buying bulls.

Link Pointer Heifer Reproduction Starts with Nutrition
Raising and developing replacement heifers directly impacts the economic success of a beef cow-calf operation. When correctly managed, a heifer can provide a positive return on investments over her productive life and contribute to longevity of the herd. Different management strategies can be utilized depending on the operation, and corresponding selection decisions should be made with long-term productivity and profitability in mind.

Link Pointer Reproductive Anatomy of the Cow/Heifer
Understanding reproductive anatomy is critical to understanding reproductive management strategies. Think about the reproductive tract as a system of biological tubes that are designed to accomplish all the tasks required to create a new calf from conception to calving.

Link Pointer Cost-Benefit Analysis of Timed A.I. and Natural Service in Beef Cattle
Cattle breeders have long used natural service (NS) breeding (i.e., live bulls breeding cows as they naturally show heat), and it remains the predominant practice for most cow-calf producers. However, many cattle breeders have embraced the use of reproductive technologies such as artificial insemination (AI), estrus synchronization (ES) and embryo transfer (ET). The use of AI — more specifically timed AI (TAI; synchronized estrus to inseminate all cows in a group at the same time) — has garnered increased attention from seedstock and commercial producers over the past decade.

Link Pointer Starting and Managing a Defined Calving Season
Of all the management practices used to improve both the economic success and performance of cow-calf production, having a defined calving season is the most important. In fact, it is better to think of it as a gateway tool to allow the use of other management practices.

Link Pointer Age Determination in Beef Cattle
Beef cattle depend on forages as their major source of nutrients. To be able to graze and physically break the roughage down into small particles, the animal’s teeth must be in good condition. The age of a beef animal has a direct effect on the animal’s teeth and subsequent productivity.