Monitoring reproductive success is an important service to cow-calf clients and visualizing the reproductive history of the herd can be a useful methodology to monitor progress, says Brad White, DVM, MS, Kansas State University.

Speaking at the Dr. Jack Walther 85th Annual Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas this week, White said preventing pregnancy losses and promoting optimal reproductive efficiency are critical for high beef cattle herd productivity and economic sustainability, and overall herd health can be evaluated with herd reproductive profiles.

White explained that the herd reproductive profile is a series of key indicators related to reproductive success including the pregnancy percentage, length of the calving season, and the distribution of calving dates within the season.

“Our goal for pregnancy rate after a 60 day breeding season is 95% or greater; however, we may not recommend an intervention or actions unless the pregnancy rate drops below 85%. Ideally, we will have 60-65% of cows calve in the first 21 days of the calving season.  Another 25% will calve in the second 21-day period followed by 10% of the herd calving in the last 21 day period. This leaves 5% open at the end of a 60-day breeding season.”

Some breeding seasons may be longer, White noted, but a rule of thumb is that in cycling females, to expect about two-thirds (66%) of eligible females to conceive during each 21-day period.

“The reproductive profile is a valuable tool for identifying specific areas for opportunity to improve reproductive efficiency, as well as highlighting potential problem areas,” White said. “Assessment of changes in the reproductive profile can be a useful diagnostic tool, and a method to monitor success of disease and management interventions.”

White said many factors (e.g. pathogen exposure, herd nutritional status) can negatively impact the reproductive profile, and an evaluation of the profile provides insight to refine the differential diagnosis list and prioritize specific health interventions for the herd.