Decisions made today will have an impact on a cow herd for years to come.
One South Dakota animal scientist says a move to increase consistency is a move in the right direction. It aids in marketing at all levels, and allows for less sorting and comingling at the feedyard.
“When we co-mingle, it's daycare. It doesn't matter how much we've vaccinated them, the kids still get sick at daycare and that's what co-mingling does. Things that would need to happen is they need to be uniform in bodyweight, which probably means less than 60 days on the calving season. That their mature weight when they're really ready to hit, they should be of similar weight. The ability to grow to that rate needs to be the same and then the quality grade needs to be consistent across the population,” says Robbi Pritchard, a South Dakota ruminant nutritionist and consultant.
That means matching up genetics and management across the herd.
“A great example would be if you use AI in your breeding season and then you follow with cleanup bulls. If the AI sires are superior genetics and if your cleanup bulls aren't superior genetics, then you no longer have a uniform calf crop. So you do have to pay more for these better cleanup bulls so that they match the others, but then you get the payback in the crop at the end,” Pritchard says.
It’s not just about making the best better, but about identifying the underperformers as well.
“Our problems are the ones on the bottom that are pulling them down. So rather than trying to push the top higher, there's a great more deal to be achieved by getting rid of the ones that failed to be average,” Pritchard continues.
Marketing must be just as intentional, built on a vision of cooperation and common goals.
“What I am doing with my calf crop is I am building a pen of feeder cattle. And they're going to have all of the traits that we want, that it's not just produce it and hope somebody finds it. And I'm going to have a relationship with a feedlot that understands the improved genetics of my calf crop,” Pritchard concludes.
Uniformity matters in the long-term, and that takes focus all along.