Create records on your calves using five keys

Beef producers who maintain information and performance records have one notable advantage over those who don’t, says Kris Ringwall, North Dakota State University Extension beef specialist, Dickinson.

“They know where they are. They do not need to have someone tell them where they are, and they can evaluate the pros and cons of each managerial input within their herd. They are not swayed by fads, opinion or other novel approaches destined to cure all their ills. These producers are in control; they manage and they know.”

The place to start

Most calf data sets start with five important points.

calf identification

mother of the calf or cow identification

calf birth date

sex of the calf

calf body weight

Fall data, such as calf frame score (calf height) and other comments regarding selected calves, could be collected. Comments are seldom, if ever, incorporated into a data base. However, through the life of a cow, those comments certainly will bring back memories and, if frequent enough, may be considered during a management review, Ringwall says.

Formulating calf groups

These comments also can lead to formulating contemporary groups (calves that are all raised under similar conditions) and placing a code on each calf designating the respective contemporary group to which the calf should be allotted.

Information that may not be collected directly from the calf but is known about the calf, based on breeding information or other records available, could be the sire of the calf and age of the cow.

“Cow age may not be an obvious data need, but most producers realize that heifers, second-calf heifers, younger cows, mature cows, old cows, ancient cows and, eventually, broken-toothed and gummer cows all have different needs,” Ringwall says.

“The level of output will vary a great deal based on the age of the cow,” he adds. “The sire of the calf will help evaluate sire selection and the value of the sires utilized within the herd.”

Not all producers need to maintain the same type of data, but regardless of what data are kept, even a little is better than none, Ringwall says.

“Spend some time reviewing the year’s production and riding the pastures,” Ringwall recommends. “Go one step further by writing down a few thoughts.”

Source: NDSU Extension Communications

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STANDOUT CALF: A calf stands out during branding. Good calf records will give you an advantage in managing a beef herd.

This article published in the January, 2011 edition of DAKOTA FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2011.