Cow herd reproduction is the most important factor affecting the profitability of Saskatchewan beef producers,” says Travis Peardon, livestock specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture.
When it comes to contributing income, cow herd reproduction is five times more important than growth rate and 10 times more important than carcass quality. Calves born in that first 21-day cycle will be about 50 pounds heavier at weaning than calves born during the second cycle and 100 pounds heavier than those born during the third cycle.
To inform producers of the importance of aiming for and attaining that 60 per cent birth rate in the first cycle, Saskatchewan’s 21-Day Calving Challenge was launched at the Canadian Western Agribition in Regina last November.
“What we’re asking producers to do is figure out their calving distribution for each of the cycles,” says Peardon. “If they’re 60 per cent or higher in that first 21 days they’re doing a good job of managing their herds. If they’re lower than 60 per cent they’ll maybe take some steps to improve those numbers.”
Producers will already have a calving book that they carry around in their pocket during calving season. This year they’re being offered a free pocket record book with a few added features.
“It’s similar to any calving book, the difference being we actually lay out formulas for producers to figure out their calving percentages for each cycle,” says Peardon. “It’s also has tons of great information. We basically brainstormed every topic we get asked as livestock specialists and we included 100- to 200-word summaries of each of those. So it’s not only a calving book but hopefully it’s somewhat of an education piece for producers as well.”
The book includes short articles on such topics as Injection Techniques for Beef Cattle, Hybrid Vigour — Benefits of Cross Breeding, Feed and Forage Sampling Procedures and Myth Busters: Dispelling Commonly Held Beliefs About Beef Cow Management and Feeding.
And for producers who aren’t attaining that 60 per cent birth rate in the first 21 days, there are a couple of pages of explanations, information and contacts for further assistance.
Producers who sign up for the 21-Day Challenge will be entered in a prize draw. Three mineral companies are donating some of their product. To participate in the contest, producers can fill out the tear away entry form at the back of the book and send it in to enter the draw for one of three $1,000 vouchers for mineral supplement for their cow herd. The deadline for mailing or dropping off entries at the Ag Knowledge Centre, 45 Thatcher Drive East, Moose Jaw, Sask. S6J 1L8 is June 1, 2015. But Peardon says producers who are not finished with calving on that date will not be excluded. “They can still fill in what information they have available and still enter by June 1.”
To obtain a copy of Saskatchewan’s 21 Day Calving Challenge book, contact your Regional Livestock specialist or call the Agriculture Knowledge Centre toll free: 1-866-457-2377.