Time to Evaluate Entire Herd Performance

April 19, 2009 07:00 PM

Everyone uses a different process to make decisions, says Sandy Johnson, Kansas State University livestock specialist. How do you make decisions on whether your cow herd is going in the right direction? "Some look very closely at individual performance information to make culling and breeding decisions," she says. "This can be an important step in moving a herd in a desired direction."

At some point, however, performance of the entire herd should be evaluated. For example, what has happened to percent calf crop over time in a herd with fewer and fewer crossbred cows? Would you know if calf death loss was slowly trending up or down over time?

The following table represents the base inventory records that are needed to apply to any production or economic analysis of the cow herd, says Johnson. "Often this information is available but it seems hard to find the time to tally it all up for study. Producers should be able to complete this table for their 2008 inventory."

If you don't have last years numbers, now is a good time to start on 2009.

2008 production summary
2 number of beef cows Jan.1, 2008



2 number of replacement heifer calves Jan.1, 2008




females exposed to bulls last year
(2007; SPA* adjusted )

________ hd
4 Live calves born ________ hd
5 Live calves weaned ________ hd
6 Number of cows sold ________ hd
7 Number of cows died ________ hd
8 Number of calves died ________ hd

Percent calf crop
(line 5/line 3) x 100 %

________ hd

Replacement rate
(line 6 / line 1) x 100 %

________ hd

Cow death loss
(line 7 / line 1 ) x 100 %

________ hd

Calf death loss
(line 5 / line 4) x 100 %

________ hd
* Standardized Performance Analysis – a uniform way to account for inventory changes; include cows that died after turnout but not planned culls, cows purchased pregnant or exposed but sold pregnant. Click here to go to Texas A&M University's SPA information.

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