Preparing for Breeding Season - Male to Female Ratios

Apr 02, 2022


Beef Cows

Goals for Breeding Season

Breeding season will be here before we know it and with it, bull turnout. In our area, we are fortunate to have many outstanding registered seedstock breeders who will be marketing bulls this Spring. The opportunity to invest in genetics to improve the profit potential of your operation may have you wondering what exactly you should be looking for.

The first goal of the breeding season is to get cows bred early, resulting in more calves born early in the calving season, which leads to an older calf at weaning and ultimately, more pay weight at weaning. The typical beef calf gains about 2 lbs./day up until weaning, accordingly a calf born one heat cycle (21 days) earlier will wean off about 40 lbs. heavier. How do we get this accomplished? One important factor is having an adequate amount of bulls to get cows serviced. The following shows a conservative expectation of the number of cows we should expect bulls to cover in a defined breeding season.

  • 12 - 15 months old bulls = 10 – 12 females
  • 15 - 18 months old bulls = 12 – 18 females
  • 18 - 24 months old bulls = 18 – 25 females
  • 2 - 6 years old bulls = 25 – 35 females

Rule of Thumb: One female per bull’s month of age at turnout.

Breeding Soundness Exams
It is suggested to have all bulls undergo a Breeding Soundness Exam (BSE) prior to turnout. A BSE includes a semen test as well as a physical exam of the entire reproductive tract, eyes, feet, legs, and teeth. 

Social Behavior of Bulls
When you invest in bulls this spring, it is a good idea to pen bulls of similar ages and size together for several weeks prior to start of breeding season to allow for social ranking of bulls. This time together allows bulls to establish a “pecking order” so they will be ready to focus on their job at turnout.

 What is the typical life expectancy of a breeding bull? 
Typically, up to the age of 6 is “prime of life” for breeding bulls. This isn’t to say that all bulls will break down at this age but is more likely to happen after age six. Often when an older bull goes bad, it isn’t discovered until after breeding season when we are doing pregnancy checks. 

If you have any questions as we enter breeding season, please contact your local Premier nutritionist and they would be happy to help.

 

Doug Noble

Animal Nutritionist

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