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Agricultural News

OSU's Glenn Selk Talks About How Body Condition at Calving Matters in the Reproductive Process

Tue, 01 Oct 2019 17:18:01 CDT

OSU's Glenn Selk Talks About How Body Condition at Calving Matters in the Reproductive Process Dr. Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist, offers herd health advice as part of the weekly series known as the "Cow Calf Corner" published electronically by Dr. Peel and Dr. Glenn Selk. Today, Dr. Selk explains how body condition at calving is still key in the reproductive process.

"We can sub-title this article: “Back to the basics”. Very often in this newsletter or other beef cow related communications, the term “body condition score” is used. It may be time for a brief refresher about this important management tool. Body condition scoring is a manner of evaluating the fatness and therefore the nutritional status of beef cows. Most small to medium sized ranching operations do not have scales to routinely weigh cattle and determine weight and body condition changes. However, everyone has the capability to visually observe cows from the pickup window or on horseback. Body condition is categorized by a scoring system based on “1” being very emaciated and “9” is extremely obese. Most commercial range cows will be in the middle three scores of 4, 5, and 6.

"One of the major constraints in the improvement of reproductive efficiency of beef cows is the duration of the post-calving anestrus period.    The “anestrus period” is defined as the days between calving and the return to normal heat cycles. If cows are to maintain a calving interval of 1 year they must conceive within 80 to 85 days after calving. Body condition at calving time determines to a great extent the re-breeding performance of beef cows in the subsequent breeding season. Body condition at calving tends to determine the number of days before the cow returns to heat cycles. Based on research of mature and young cows from several studies, cows that maintained body weight and therefore ample energy reserves before parturition exhibited heat cycles sooner than cows that lost considerable body weight and consequently had poor energy reserves. Therefore cows that returned to heat cycles earlier, had more opportunities for heat cycles and ovaluations during the breeding season and consequently have higher conception rates.

"Body condition at calving greatly impacts the likelihood that the cow will rebreed in the upcoming breeding season and have another calf on time next year."

You can access Selk's full article with pictures and chart - here.



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