Is it Smart to Keep an Unproductive Cow Around?

Finding solid investments in premium and high-quality bull semen may be unusual, but it can be a gold mine in the beef industry. Bulls can produce semen daily, but the most optimal breeds can only produce semen once every 7-10 days

This begs the question, what if the high-semen-producing bull you purchased or currently have falls ill or dies? How does this supposed long-term investment affect my beef farm’s long-term goals? 

Another point of consideration that is big in the beef industry is cattle maintenance. In doing so, a need to establish a natural yet innovative way to achieve proper herd maintenance in a competitive industry is prevalent.

You can’t just do with FTAI alone.

Going forward with Fixed Time Artificial Insemination (FTAI), it’s essential to know that it’s not a linear approach to a more productive beef farm. However, making proper investments apart from trying out efficient biotech solutions are also steps in the right direction you want your farm to produce.

While attaining your preferred breed seems like a done deal, there are still a few considerations to make before being able to pinpoint your herd’s breeding potential.

Achieving such could also mean practicing natural methods of maintaining farm productivity utilizing selecting and culling

Some factors commonly assessed to determine if heifers are candidates for selection include prolificacy and a high Average Daily Gain (ADG) and good semen quality and yielding for bulls.

Consider the traits to look out for in your heifers

When selecting the best bulls, the ideal goal is to attain high genetic merit, collecting the best characteristics and transferring them to the calves. It’s still a must to know that not all high genetic merit sires have genes that will provide a vigorous, effective response to a disease.  

In beef operations per se, there is still a need to look into a couple of specific factors of a female herd’s overall health and productivity to assess better if they are fit for selection or culling. A few of these critical factors include the following:

Size

Most beef farmers refer to the average size of the herd or the individual structure of cows prior to dictating whether or not the cow is fit for selection. 

Birth Weight 

According to studies, the beef industry takes full economic advantage from operations when the birth weight of a cow is taken into account before breeding season. Checking the birth weight of a cow can help indicate if the cow is associated with a post-weaning daily weight gain. Those who have larger cows tend to have an easier time calving. 

Scrotal Circumference

Checking the scrotal circumference is the best estimate of testes volume. This helps gauge the sperm production potential of the bull. Looking at the  bull’s scrotum is often an indicator to determine fertility and measuring the health and viability of the sperm-producing tissues can point out whether or not the cow is fit to undergo  insemination. 

High Milk Production in Heifers 

This aspect of selection-fitting matters when your farm’s goal is to produce heavier calves since it aids in increasing milk production. Ultimately, more milk means higher weaning weight per calf, and essentially, the heavier the weaning weight, the more efficient your herd’s productivity can be. 

High Weaning and Yearling Weight

Looking into the weaning weight and yearling weight of a cow is vital when your goal is to produce heavier calves. Weaning weight is heavily influenced by the time of weaning and the date of birth, which can change the BDS of a cow for selection.

High Carcass Weight 

In beef operations, the carcass weight of your cow should be assessed if your goal is to generate meat or fatten calves. High carcass weight can tell the leanness of the meat from carcass scans.  

The cons of keeping unproductive bulls

The use of Gynecological Ultrasound can provide more insights into the cow’s reproduction status. Still, there’s also a vital need to look into unproductive bulls’ performance to detect which ones can still pass on their most optimal traits and are often overlooked. 

Maintenance can be expensive and even cost-prohibitive for Philippine cattle farmers who have become common in many small backyard farms. Thus, it is safe to say that keeping unproductive bulls alive or purchasing bulls mainly for semen production, which your entire beef farm will hinge on, can be more of a setback than a step in the right direction. 

Clearcut solutions like investing in smart biotechnology present better chances of improving valuable selection in your herd while also finding a more viable alternative in spotlighting your farm’s long-term productivity.

Learn more on how you can #BreedBetterWithBionova to understand better how reproductive technologies play a role in beef and dairy operations, small or wide scale. Visit the Bionova Facebook page or shoot us an email at info@bionova.ph today!

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