Oklahoma Cow Calf Corner

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Well-known member
Jan 20, 2007
LaRue, Ohio
Oklahoma Moisture Conditions Improve But Winter Has Returned

By Derrell S. Peel
One of the reasons that dual-purpose wheat systems are so popular in Oklahoma is that all too often the conditions that result in good wheat grazing conditions are inversely related to conditions for good wheat grain yields.  Dry conditions last fall limited grazing potential but eventually most areas were able to get decent wheat stands established.  Recent moisture in Oklahoma was too late to change wheat grazing much, except for a limited amount of wheat that was being grazed out but the grain crop prospects were very promising with warmer weather and rain. 
However, agricultural producers constantly face the fact that sometimes Mother Nature is just a real bear.  If the freeze warnings for this weekend are accurate, we may see substantial damage to the Oklahoma wheat crop.  This might result in many acres of wheat being harvested as hay if yield potential is severely reduced.  Wheat aside, the recent rains have greatly improved early summer forage prospects and the potential for summer grazing as well as hay production outlook is better now than anytime in the last 18 months or so.  However, for the water year, which started after the growing season last fall, most of Oklahoma is just about average for total precipitation thus far.  More timely rains are certainly required to realize this potential. At the current time it appears that conditions are favorable for more summer stocker production and for renewed heifer retention and herd rebuilding.
The recently released USDA crop planting prospects indicated, not surprisingly, that farmers intend to plant much more corn this year…about 12 million acres more!  That along with increases in wheat, hay, grain sorghum and barley acres are being offset mostly by 8 million fewer acres of soybeans and a 3 million acre drop in cotton.  However, across all of the major crops the total planting intentions are up over 5.5 million acres this year.  In other words, it appears that more total acres of crops will be planted and the increase presumably is mostly coming from acres that are currently in pasture.  This is just the first indication of the huge changes in U.S. agriculture that are being driven by the ethanol juggernaut.  It is not clear yet exactly what we are trying to do, let alone what Mother Nature is going to let us do.  The point is, that livestock markets will continue to be subject to lots of uncertainty stemming from crop production and weather conditions along with other usual market concerns including beef demand, trade and cyclical expansion.  In general, cattle prices are fundamentally strong now and likely to remain so but the potential for market volatility is enormous.

Realistic Expectations from Estrous Synchronization and AI Programs
by Glenn Selk

Producers that are wanting to improve the genetic makeup of their beef herds very often turn to artificial insemination (AI) as a tool to accomplish that goal.  Many times, these producers have very high expectations as they begin the first season of artificial breeding.  Perhaps they have heard other producers tell of situations where “near-perfect” pregnancy rates resulted from THEIR artificial insemination program.  Everyone wants to get every cow or heifer bred as they start the labor and expense of an AI program.  However, the rules of biology do not often allow for 100% pregnancy rates in most situations. 

First of all it is important to understand several terms.

Estrous response rate:  the percentage of cows found to be cycling in response to an estrus synchronization protocol.  In other words, if we put 100 cows through the working chute and give them estrous synchronization drugs, and only 80 of those cows responded to the estrous synchronization products, then we have an “estrous response rate” of 80 percent.  Perhaps some of the cows were not “ready” because they were later calving or they were in poorer body condition.  If we are breeding only after they are detected in heat, then only 80 of the original 100 cows would be bred to AI.

Conception rate: the percentage of the cows that were actually inseminated that were palpated and found to be pregnant 60 or more days later.  In other words, of the 80 cows in the above example, that were found in heat and inseminated, IF we later found that 70 percent of those “settled” or became pregnant, we would have found 56 cows pregnant.

Pregnancy rate: the percentage of cows that were initially started on the estrous synchronization protocol that actually became pregnant.  In the above example, 56 of the original 100 cows became pregnant to the AI program resulting in a pregnancy rate of 56%.

Therefore, the Estrous response rate X Conception rate = Pregnancy rate.

In this example: 80% Estrous response X 70% Conception = 56% Pregnant. The above example is hypothetical, yet very much close to the expected outcome of a successful synchronization and AI program.  If heat detection is incorporated as part of the system, then it becomes another very important part of the equation.

Below is a brief summary of just a few of the many trials conducted to study synchronization methods.  As you look at this table, observe that similar results occur within the same study (or ranch).  There is more difference expressed between operations than between the synchronization methods chosen.  Note that most pregnancy rates vary between 35 and 60%.

These research trials were conducted under typical farm or ranch conditions with experienced insemination technicians.  They give producers a realistic look at what to expect from synchronization and AI programs.  Of course some operations will have better results and some will have more disappointing outcomes.  We hope everyone has 100 percent pregnancy rates this year, BUT, lets also be realistic.

Pregnancy rates (%) in five different beef and dairy studies using three different methods of synchronization

2000 Kansas Study  1999 Minnesota Study  1999 Colorado Study  1999 Kansas Study  1995 Florida Study

Number of cattle
240                                        471                          124                                  588                            346

Method A
                                                37%                          58%                              56%

Method B
  58%                                      35%                          47%                                46%                            50%

Method C
58%                                                                                                                52%