Reproductive Failure Impacts on Retained Beef Heifer Profitability
Andrew P. Griffith,
Christopher N. Boyer and
No 302739, Extension Reports from University of Tennessee, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics
The lifeblood of most cow-calf operations is the females that make up the herd. Cow-calf producers make culling and retention decisions on a regular basis that influence profitability. The decision to cull a cow, or to add a female to the herd, is largely based on the animal’s structural integrity (i.e., feet, udder), disposition, expected reproductive success, and expected profitability. Thus, there is a certain risk related to cattle prices, cow reproductive efficiency, and calf performance. Cow-calf producers have several alternatives when it comes to replacing a culled cow, including purchasing open heifers, bred heifers or mature cows. However, the most common option is retaining female calves for replacement heifers (U.S. Department of Agriculture [USDA], 2009). Retaining calves from one’s own operation is common because the producer has the advantage of knowing the heifers’ genetics, reducing herd exposure to disease from off-farm animals, and no cash expense for the purchase of external heifers. Despite reducing certain risks by retaining one’s own animals, retaining and developing heifers to place back in the breeding herd is still a large and risky investment that will impact long-term profitability of the operation (Mathews and Short, 2001). Many cattle producers recognize that open/late calving cows impact profitability (USDA, 2009). To be more specific, open cows due to failed pregnancy, abortions and calf death contribute to costs but do not generate revenue. Deciding to cull or retain a female that failed to produce a calf impacts long-run profits. The research objective of this study was to determine how reproductive failure impacts the profitability of raising replacement beef heifers in Tennessee in a spring and fall calving season. Results in this report could benefit producers by showing the economic implications of selecting replacement heifers based on fertility and ability to contribute to the herd.
Keywords: Farm Management; Livestock Production/Industries (search for similar items in EconPapers)
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