Merck Manual

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Professional Version

Beef Cattle Breeding Herds


W. Mark Hilton

, DVM, DABVP, Veterinary Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University

Reviewed/Revised Apr 2014 | Modified Oct 2022

Several managerial practices increase productivity within cow-calf herds when they can be implemented economically and practically. These practices are mostly associated with reproduction, because improvements in herd fertility generally offer potential for increased profitability in cow-calf operations. They include a restricted breeding season, identification of the optimal calving season, a good heifer replacement program, heifer reproductive tract scoring, proper nutrition, good herd health, bull breeding soundness examinations, crossbreeding, and maintaining good records. Other management practices associated with increased beef herd profitability include decreasing unit cost of production, use of growth promotants in calves, internal and external parasite control, improved calf management, management-intensive grazing, preconditioning of calves, and having a marketing plan.

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