UT Beef and Forage Center

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.




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.

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.

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.

The Importance of Convenience Traits in Beef Cattle
Convenience traits are those cattle traits that contribute directly to savings in time, facilities, drugs and labor in a cow-calf enterprise. Some examples of these traits would be temperament, polledness, structural and udder soundness, disease and pest resistance, heat tolerance, doing or Afleshing ability, mothering ability and calving ease. Many of these traits of convenience are not highly heritable but contribute to the ease of participating in and enjoyment of the beef cattle industry.

Frame Scores in Beef Cattle
Frame scrore is a convenient way of numerically describing the skeletal size of cattle and is frequently report as supplementary information to weight and other growth performance data.

How to Understand and Use Sire Summaries
Cow longevity is a trait that has great economic importance to commercial beef cattle producers. Increased costs associated with early removal of a female from the herd include young female development costs, increased depreciation costs and lower productivity of young females compared to mature females.

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.

Estrous Synchronization
Estrus synchronization (ES) programs have been available for the past 25 years and have enjoyed success as a tool to make artificial insemination more practical. A number of products and protocols are available and all have advantages and disadvantages.