Reproduction (measured as weaner throughput) is one of the most important factors affecting the profitability of cattle breeding enterprises.
Bull, heifer and cow management should be considered in the context of weaning more livestock. Well-planned and managed breeding, and good weaning rates also form the basis of herd improvement through the transfer of genes from one generation to the next.
The way heifers are managed can have a significant effect on their performance later as breeders.
Heifer nutrition and growth needs to be well managed from weaning to joining, throughout pregnancy and immediately after calving.
The requirement of cows in a breeding operation is to conceive and rear a calf to weaning each year following puberty.
Failing to achieve this means calving will be pushed back each year.
Although bulls represent half of the breeding unit, the choice of sire has a profound effect on the long-term performance of the herd.
While the average cow will usually only produce one calf per year, the bull may influence the genetic makeup of 30-50 calves per year with the result that most genetic gain occurs through the bull.
The management, handling and feeding of weaners is critical to their performance in later life.
Producers should aim to wean as early as possible, without compromising overall calf growth rate.
The main predation threat to the cattle industry is the wild dog. Protective behaviour by cows can be enough to deter attacks on calves although much depends on the health, condition and protectiveness of the cows.
Producers should also undertake wild dog control activities on their property.
Cattle health and reproductive diseases
The health and condition of cattle have a direct impact on their reproductive capacity. Reproductive diseases exist that affect both the male and female reproductive ability.
The key to preventing reproductive disease is vaccination and good management practices.