Beef Cow Nutrition Through the Year: Managing for Efficient Reproduction

Editor’s note
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Eric Bailey
Assistant Professor, Animal Sciences
Jordan Thomas
Assistant Professor, Animal Sciences

Profitable cow-calf operations manage so that a large proportion of the cow herd calves in the early portion of a short calving season. In order to maintain this level of reproductive performance, cows need to conceive on approximately a 365-day calving interval.  To do so, a cow must rebreed within 85 days of calving.  Length of the postpartum period of anestrus varies considerably among cows and as a function of management; however, most research estimates that a cow does not cycle for six-weeks post calving on average.  Thus, a cow has roughly two estrous cycles in which to become pregnant again. Body condition and the plane of nutrition play outsized roles in keeping cows on a 365-day calving interval.