Take the Saskatchew­an 21 Day calv­ing chal­lenge and win


Cow herd re­pro­duc­tion is the most im­por­tant fac­tor af­fect­ing the prof­itabil­ity of Saskatchew­an Beef Pro­duc­ers. It is five times more im­por­tant than growth rate and 10 times more im­por­tant than car­cass qual­ity when it comes to con­tribut­ing in­come to the ranch. That is why the Saskatchew­an Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Re­gional Ser­vices Branch, New Life Mills, Sal­tec – Ceres In­dus­tries, and Cargill are host­ing a Saskatchew­an 21 Day Calv­ing Chal­lenge Contest – to raise aware­ness sur­round­ing cow herd re­pro­duc­tion and track­ing re­pro­duc­tive suc­cess.

One of the sim­plest ways to track the re­pro­duc­tive suc­cess of a cow­calf herd is to graph a calv­ing dis­tri­bu­tion. This is sim­ply a cal­cu­la­tion of how many calves are born in each 21 day pe­riod of the calv­ing sea­son. Calv­ing dis­tri­bu­tion is im­por­tant be­cause it is the only eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble re­pro­duc­tive event in a cow­calf herd. In most herds, we don’t know the ex­act breed­ing dates for each cow un­less we are us­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion. The only re­pro­duc­tive event that is easy to track is the cow’s calv­ing date.

To cre­ate a calv­ing dis­tri­bu­tion, count the cows that have calved dur­ing the first 21 days of the calv­ing sea­son. Di­vide this num­ber by the to­tal num­ber of cows that calve in the sea­son and mul­ti­ply by 100 to get the per­cent­age of cows calv­ing in the first 21 days. Re­peat this process for each of the next two 21 day pe­ri­ods. The goal is to have at least 60 per cent of the herd calv­ing in the first 21 day pe­riod of the sea­son. There are sev­eral rea­sons why achiev­ing the goal of 60 per cent of cows calv­ing in the first 21 days of the calv­ing sea­son is im­por­tant.

– Early calv­ing cows stay on track. Cows that are cy­cling and get bred in the first 21 days of the breed­ing sea­son are more likely to be cy­cling and bred at the start of the next breed­ing sea­son, pro­vided that they are in good body con­di­tion and re­ceiv­ing ad­e­quate nu­tri­tion.

– Cows that calve in the first 21 days will wean heav­ier calves. Ev­ery time a cow misses a 21 day breed­ing cy­cle it will re­duce wean­ing weight by 50 pounds.

– Heifer calves born in the first 21 days that are re­tained as re­place­ment heifers are heav­ier and more likely to be cy­cling as a year­ling heifer.

– Hav­ing a large pro­por­tion of calves born in the first 21 day pe­riod also cre­ates a more even and uni­form calf crop, sim­pli­fy­ing man­age­ment pro­ce­dures and re­sults in a mar­ket­ing ad­van­tage.

Most cow-calf pro­duc­ers have a calv­ing book in their pock­ets at calv­ing time. This sim­ple record keep­ing sys­tem can tell you more than which calf be­longs to which cow.

The Saskatchew­an 21 Day Calv­ing Chal­lenge in­vites pro­duc­ers to record, mea­sure and eval­u­ate their calv­ing sea­son to see how their herd stacks up on re­pro­duc­tion and prof­itabil­ity. In tak­ing the 21 Day Calv­ing Chal­lenge, pro­duc­ers will be pro­vided with a calv­ing book to record the com­ing calv­ing sea­son and guide them in cal­cu­lat­ing their calv­ing dis­tri­bu­tion per­cent­ages. In ad­di­tion to pro­vid­ing a place for record keep­ing, the calv­ing book is full of great pro­duc­tion, nu­tri­tion and re­pro­duc­tion in­for­ma­tion. To par­tic­i­pate in this contest, pro­duc­ers need to fill out the tear away en­try form at the back of the of­fi­cial calv­ing book and send it in to en­ter the draw for one of three $1,000 vouch­ers for min­eral sup­ple­ment for their cow herd.

The Saskatchew­an 21 Day Calv­ing Chal­lenge contest is spon­sored by New Life Mills, Sal­tec – Ceres In­dus­tries and Cargill. The contest ends June 1, 2015.

For more in­for­ma­tion, or to ob­tain your of­fi­cial contest calv­ing book, con­tact your lo­cal Re­gional Live­stock Spe­cial­ist, call the Agri­cul­tural Knowl­edge Cen­tre at 1866-457-2377, or visit the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture booth at Cana­dian Western Agri­bi­tion (Nov. 24 to 29).

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