Information and Resources
Cattle breeders have long used natural service (NS) breeding (i.e., live bulls breeding cows as they naturally show heat), and it remains the predominant practice for most cow-calf producers. However, many cattle breeders have embraced the use of reproductive technologies such as artificial insemination (AI), estrus synchronization (ES) and embryo transfer (ET). The use of AI — more specifically timed AI (TAI; synchronized estrus to inseminate all cows in a group at the same time) — has garnered increased attention from seedstock and commercial producers over the past decade.
Of all the management practices used to improve both the economic success and performance of cow-calf production, having a defined calving season is the most important. In fact, it is better to think of it as a gateway tool to allow the use of other management practices.
Convenience traits are those cattle traits that contribute directly to savings in time, facilities, drugs and labor in a cow-calf enterprise. Some examples of these traits would be temperament, polledness, structural and udder soundness, disease and pest resistance, heat tolerance, doing or Afleshing ability, mothering ability and calving ease. Many of these traits of convenience are not highly heritable but contribute to the ease of participating in and enjoyment of the beef cattle industry.
Frame scrore is a convenient way of numerically describing the skeletal size of cattle and is frequently report as supplementary information to weight and other growth performance data.
Cow longevity is a trait that has great economic importance to commercial beef cattle producers. Increased costs associated with early removal of a female from the herd include young female development costs, increased depreciation costs and lower productivity of young females compared to mature females.
Beef cattle depend on forages as their major source of nutrients. To be able to graze and physically break the roughage down into small particles, the animal's teeth must be in good condition. The age of a beef animal has a direct effect on the animal's teeth and subsequent productivity.
Estrus synchronization (ES) programs have been available for the past 25 years and have enjoyed success as a tool to make artificial insemination more practical. A number of products and protocols are available and all have advantages and disadvantages.