Controlled Breeding Season
Cattlemen that plan to maximize revenue potential have implemented a few basic management strategies. They know their customer; they know what they want and when they want it. Knowing this, they work to produce calves that meet this need based on their capabilities (this is aligned with forage availability). Most large buyers are not planning on purchasing one or two calves. They are putting a truck-load together and more than likely they are looking for calves that are similar in age and weight. Being able to meet this need could result in increased revenue potential. Implementing a defined breeding season will result in a defined calving season and can help you reach this goal.
Your operation may have one herd on a controlled breeding program or you may have multiple herds using multiple controlled breeding seasons. Maybe your program uses a 60-day season, maybe its 120-days; everyone’s’ may be different. The goal is to produce what your potential buyer wants. If you’re not using a controlled breeding season it isn’t difficult to incorporate and you don’t have to lose a lot of money to make it happen. Following a 3-year program, a year-round breeding season can be converted into a 90-day defined breeding season. The University of Florida has an excellent publication, Converting the Beef Cow Herd to a Controlled Breeding Season, that can guide you through this process,
If your marketing strategy doesn’t sway you to utilize controlled breeding, there are other reasons you might consider. Regardless of your herd size, time is one of the most valuable things you have. By implementing a controlled breeding season, you can work your calves at the same time during a particular time of year rather than working them multiple times (castration, deworming, weaning, taking them to market, etc.). In addition, you can focus your efforts during calving to watch for calving difficulty. Responding quickly can sometimes mean the difference between a live calf and healthy cow or death of one or both. By removing your bull you can evaluate your herd for pregnancy and remove unproductive cattle (Understanding Pregnancy Diagnosis in Beef Cattle). I don’t know many ranchers who want to feed cattle for a year that are not pregnant. Cattle that are not pregnant can be managed differently, perhaps culled and bred as replacements for someone else’s herd.
If you are interested in utilizing this management tool or if you would like more information related to beef cattle management, contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Agent.