Reproductive Tract Repair
Tips for reproductive tract repair and breeding success.
A brood cow is the heart of the herd. She is the one that lays down each year to have a calf to ultimately propagate her outstanding genetics or help feed the world. Even though her role is considered important by all those around her, being a cow is not always a glamorous job.
Once that heifer is bred, endures gestation and delivers her first calf, she has experienced perhaps the most stressful time in her life since weaning. Now, she is lactating, raising her calf and still growing, all while healing her reproductive tract. Plus, typically within 60 days of delivering that calf, she’s expected to be ready for rebreeding, which is why taking care of her reproductive health is of the utmost importance.
“The most important trait in beef production is reproduction. If those cows are not breeding back and giving you a calf every year, you’re not going to be profitable. The reproductive tract is the epicenter of reproductive efficiency,” says Lindsey Grimes-Hall, nutrition & field sales support for BioZyme Inc.
The reproductive tract endures a lot of stress during the last days of gestation and calving. There are some factors you should consider to ensure your cows stay in good reproductive shape.
- 1. Mating decisions. When selecting bulls to breed your females to, consider size and age of the females. Are you breeding first-calf heifers or rebreeding cows for their second calf? Remember, they are still growing and maturing themselves, and most 2- to 3-year-old cows have a smaller reproductive tract and pelvis than mature cows. When making mating decisions, choose bulls with a more desirable calving ease. Therefore, the younger cows should have smaller calves that won’t rip or tear the reproductive tract as much as a larger calf or one you have to assist. Most mature cows can have a larger calf unassisted. Calves with higher birth weights will increase chances of dystocia, causing a longer time for mama to bounce back.
- 2. Don’t rush. Try to let your cows have their calves on their own and don’t rush into pulling a calf for the sake of pulling a calf. Maybe you’ve just conducted your 11 p.m. check and notice there’s a cow in the early stages of labor. She’s an older cow that’s never had challenges calving before; however, it is late, and you’re tired. Don’t put her in and pull her calf because that can cause unnecessary tears and rips, which take longer to heal. Let the cow take her time and go back to check on her in an hour or so.
- 3. Supply adequate nutrition. The one thing producers can offer their cows to maintain optimal reproductive health is good nutrition all year long.
“There are so many external factors that can influence reproduction that are out of our control,” Grimes-Hall says. “Weather is a big one. Genetics is another. Almost anything can influence reproduction, but nutrition is the one thing we can control, so why not set her up for the best chance possible with a good plane of nutrition? You can do a lot from a year-round nutrition standpoint.”
The first thing a producer should do is make sure the cows are in proper body condition. Typically, you’d want your cows to have a body condition score (BCS) of 5-6 prior to calving, on a scale of 1 to 9. Make sure your cows are not too fleshy. Cows that are overly conditioned can increase your incidences of dystocia and harder pulls, which makes cleaning up and recovery harder on the cow. On the other extreme, make sure your cows aren’t undernourished either.
“If your cow is too skinny, she will crash trying to have that calf. She must have adequate energy to meet her nutrient requirements and those of that growing calf,” Grimes-Hall says.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do for your cows’ reproductive health throughout the year is make sure they are on a high-quality mineral program. High concentrations of vitamin E and organic trace minerals support quick repair of the reproductive tract and more energy for reproductive success.
“Calving is a huge trauma to the reproductive tract, so the high fortification of the trace minerals and vitamin E for cell integrity and muscle repair all have a huge impact on the cow’s reproductive health,” Grimes-Hall says.
In addition to vitamin E, organic copper, zinc and manganese ensure maximum bioavailability of nutrients to the animal. These minerals have a huge impact on the reproductive tract and hormone production. A final key ingredient is iodine, which aids in thyroid hormone synthesis, which also affects reproduction.
When you expect the most from your cows, it’s imperative to provide them with the best care possible. A high-quality mineral program coupled with best management practices will ensure reproductive performance that delivers.
Editor’s note: Shelia Grobosky is a public relations coordinator with BioZyme Inc. To learn more of their vitamin and mineral products, visit www.vitaferm.com.