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Table aids in sound culling decisions

Use the “Lazy L” principle to help you decide which cows to cull going into a drought, advises Kris Ringwall, North Dakota State University Extension livestock specialist, Dickinson, N.D.

The “Lazy L” principle is a way to evaluate the calving season. It’s based on a calving distribution table.

If you don’t have a distribution table, Ringwall explains how to draw one up:

First, take a sheet of paper and make five columns listing the dates when the cows calved across the top. The headings should read “First 21 days”, “Second 21 days”, “Third 21 days”, “Fourth 21 days” and “Late.”

Key Points

Creating a calving distribution chart can help in culling decisions.

Apply the “Lazy L” principle to logically identify cull candidates.

Aim to cull older cows and those that are not calving on time.

Second, make a row for each cow age you have in the herd. When you’re done, you’ll have a table with all your cow ages down the left-hand side and calving cycle days across the top.

Third, consult your calving book and mark down each cow in the appropriate box in the table. For example, H8220 is a 4-year-old cow that calved 30 days into the season. Place a mark in the 3-year-old row and “Second 21 days” column. G7108 is a 5-year-old cow that calved 15 days into the calving season and would get marked in the 4-year-old row and “First 21 days” column.

After going through all the cows, you will have a table that shows the distribution of your calving season by cow age.

Depending on how many cows you need to cull, draw a “Lazy L” (an “L” that is lying down) and sell everything below and to the right of the Lazy L.

“We drew a line between the 9- and 10-year-old cows and a line between the third 21 days and the fourth 21 days to create our Lazy L,” says Ringwall, who is the director of the Dickinson Research Extension Center. “In a previous dry season, the center sold everything below and to the right of that Lazy L. What this does is identify the older cows, as well as those cows that are not calving on time. Many of these cows will work just fine for someone else. Also, it will clean up and fine-tune your operation.”

You can choose to cull additional cows for other reasons — wild disposition or poor mothering instincts, to name a few.

Using the “Lazy L” principle will help you reduce cow numbers when you expect to have less forage than you need, Ringwall concludes.

For more information, contact Ringwall at 1041 State Ave., Dickinson, ND 58601, or go to

Source: NDSU Ag Communications


CULL DECISION: Keep her or cull her? Mark Erickson, Langford, S.D., checks a newborn calf. Cows that calve late might be among those that are culled if forage is short this year.

This article published in the May, 2012 edition of DAKOTA FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2012.