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Highlights of the Western Canada Cow-Calf Survey

Here are some of the key averages that showed up in the 2014 Western Canadian Cow-Calf Survey (WCCCS). The survey provides an opportunity for producers to see how their production practices compare with industry averages.

2013 Breeding season

  • Average ratio cows to bulls — 24:1 (Heifers to bulls 17.5:1).
  • Average breeding season length — 91 days (cows) 89 days (heifers).
  • Producers who exposed heifers earlier than cows — 26 per cent.
  • Average open rate — seven per cent (cows) 10 per cent (heifers).

2014 Calf crop

  • Average length of calving season — 92 days (cows) 66 days (heifers).
  • Most common month to start calving — April (followed by March and February).
  • Producers with 60 per cent or more cows calving in first 21 days of season — 42 per cent.
  • Calving ease — 96 per cent (unassisted cows), 84 per cent (unassisted heifers).
  • Average calf death loss — 6.9 per cent.
  • Causes of death — disease (30 per cent), predator/accident (29 per cent), weather (16 per cent), unknown (24 per cent).

Weaning

  • Most popular time to wean — November 1-15 (followed by October).
  • Most popular weaning method — traditional separation.
  • Average weight weaned per cow exposed — 534 lbs.
  • Average weaning per cent — 85 per cent.

Weaned calf marketing

  • Number of producers selling calves at weaning — 72 per cent.
  • Number of producers backgrounding — 35 per cent.
  • Number of producers retaining replacements — 79 per cent.
  • Number of producers selling via live auction — 80 per cent.

Culling and death loss

  • Average culling rate breeding females — 10.3 per cent.
  • Main reasons for culling — reproduction (50 per cent), age (19 per cent) physical soundness (16 per cent), calf performance (five per cent).
  • Average herdsire culling rate — 22.6 per cent.
  • Main reasons for culling — physical soundness (32 per cent), age (27 per cent), reproduction (21 per cent), progeny performance (13 per cent).
  • Average breeding female death loss — 1.4 per cent.
  • Average breeding herdsire death loss — 2.4 per cent.

Reproductive management

  • Number of producers using AI — 18 per cent.
  • Number of producers using ES — 11.3 per cent.
  • Number of producers pregnancy checking — 60 per cent (cows), 66 per cent (heifers).
  • Average cow weight — 1,374 pounds (only 22 per cent provided actual scale weight).
  • Number of producers using breeding soundness evaluation for bulls — 64 per cent.
  • Top three bull selection criteria — breed, conformation, birth weight.

Calf management practices

  • Average per cent herds with 90 per cent or more calves born polled — 69 per cent.
  • Number of producers dehorning calves — 70 per cent.
  • Most common time for dehorning — after birth (43 per cent), at spring processing (38 per cent).
  • Most popular methods of dehorning — dehorning paste (40 per cent), debudder, hot iron (34 per cent).
  • Number of producers using pain control when dehorning — nine per cent.
  • Number of producers implanting calves in 2014 — 24 per cent.
  • Most common timing for calf castration shortly after birth — 64 per cent, at spring processing or branding (30 per cent).
  • Most common castration methods — elastrator (76 per cent), scalpel (22 per cent).
  • Number of producers who use pain control during castration — 4.2 per cent.

Grazing and feeding management

  • Number of producers who rotational graze — 67 per cent (native), 70 per cent (tame).
  • Number of producers who continuous graze — 30 per cent (native), 19 per cent (tame).
  • Pasture rejuvenation — every 11 or more years (38 per cent), never (33 per cent), every six to 10 years (25 per cent), every one to five years (3.4 per cent).
  • Number of producers who lab-tested feed for quality — 47 per cent.
  • Number of producers who sorted breeding females for winter feeding — (56 per cent), by age (84 per cent), by condition (67 per cent), by stage (26 per cent).
  • Most common winter feeding methods (some use more than one) — bale feeders (67 per cent), bale processors (46 per cent), bale grazing (33 per cent), rolled-out forage (28 per cent), swath grazing (17 per cent), stockpile forage (18 per cent), crop residue (17 per cent).

Health management

  • Number of producers who vaccinate — 91.4 per cent.
  • Number of producers who inject in neck (recommended) — 91 per cent.

About the author

Contributor

Angela Lovell

Angela Lovell is a freelance writer based in Manitou, Manitoba. Visit her website at http://alovell.ca or follow her on Twitter @angelalovell10.

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