Building blocks of the cow herd

“It is important to balance feed resources, supplemental feed costs, target weights and expected pregnancy rates”

Economically, the most expensive animals on a farm are the first calf heifers, due to the high cost and investment but lack of return to the beef cattle producer during the first two years. Therefore, it is important to properly develop heifers in order to optimise profits.

A study conducted at Texas A&M University evaluated profitability of cows based on when they calved as first calf heifers. Results showed that lifetime profitability could improve by 10% if first calf heifers calved in the first 21 days of the breeding season.

The next step to consider for efficient productivity is optimal growth rate and age at first calving. It is generally accepted that heifers should reach 60 to 65% of mature weight by the start of the breeding season. This will influence her reproduction in the following cycles.

It is important to balance feed resources, supplemental feed costs, target weights and expected pregnancy rates to determine which programme is most appropriate.

However, not only are weight and maturity important for success during the breeding season, but the heifer must be cycling normally. Manganese is one of the most critical trace minerals that play a role in heat cycles, response to synchronisation and pregnancy rates. An adequate balance of the other trace minerals, such as, zinc, copper and selenium also affect ovulation and pregnancy rates.

In a study conducted at Montana State University it was shown that mineral status in first-calf beef heifers was improved when Availa®4 was fed 30 to 60 days prior to calving. An improvement in heifer copper status was sustained 150 days past the end of the supplementation period.

Feeding Availa-4 increased E. coli antibody titers in response to a scour guard vaccine and decreased the number of days to first breeding by 10 days. Trace mineral supplementation also increased milk production in these beef heifers by 1,68kg/day. Calf health was improved as indicated by a 63% decrease in scours of calves born to heifers receiving trace mineral supplementation.

These results suggest that Availa-4 supplementation started 30 to 60 days prior to calving in first calf heifers provide performance benefits important for production and profitability.

Zinpro and Chemuniqué are committed to improving the trace mineral status of your beef replacement heifers. The livelihood of your business is our obsession. Talk to your nutritionist or feed sales representative about the inclusion of Zinpro Performance Minerals® in your beef cattle mineral supplements.

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