A major and realistic goal of every cow/calf operator should be to raise or market 75–85 calves per 100 cows every year. Dairy producers should strive to increase pregnancy rate, defined as the proportion of cows eligible to be bred that become pregnant during an estrous cycle or 21 days, and which determines the calving to conception interval at the end of the voluntary waiting period. As pregnancy rate increases, the calving to conception interval decreases, thereby increasing the amount of milk produced per day of herd lifetime and reducing the number of cows culled for reproductive failure; collectively, these increase herd income.
Reproductive performance in both cow/calf and dairy operations can be improved by the following: 1) properly identifying and managing animals to carry out reproductive programs; 2) keeping records that enable determination of important herd indices, such as percent calf crop, pregnancy rate, length of calving season, culling rates, calf morbidity and mortality, breeding efficiency of bulls, and performance and production information; 3) meeting the nutritional requirements of various classes of livestock in the herd, emphasizing nutritional needs and cost efficiencies; 4) establishing a breeding program for heifer replacements and cows; 5) practicing sire selection and reproductive management; 6) adopting an immunization program for the cow/calf herd, bulls, and calves; 7) evaluating reproductive failure and abortions; 8) providing adequate facilities; and 9) ensuring that the calf is well cared for at birth and receives adequate colostrum.
Last full review/revision July 2011 by Carlos A. Risco, DVM, DACT