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).