Breeding Management Seminar

January - March 2003

Byron M. Leu , livestock field specialist

Beef producers are continually searching for ways to improve the genetic makeup of their cowherds. The common approach to make these improvements is through the sire selection process. By selecting ‘known' genetics, producers can achieve positive change in selected production areas, with typically most of the selection emphasis being focused on carcass, growth and/or maternal traits. As these genetic improvements are achieved, producers can hopefully improve the profit potential of their operations.

One method used to incorporate ‘known' genetics is through the use of artificial insemination (AI). However, this management approach is labor intensive and requires above average handling facilities. Because of these concerns, beef specialists have focused on estrous synchronization methods to ‘group' females into a relative short breeding period. This process facilitates the use of AI sires, reduces labor significantly as compared to normal AI procedures, and offers the potential of high quality, ‘known' genetics into the breeding program.

The Cow Herd Improvement Program Services (CHIPS) technicians and Iowa State University Extension staff have annually sponsored educational programs featuring breeding management alternatives. In 2003, CHIPS and the Chariton Valley Beef organization networked with Genex CRI and Pharmacia agribusinesses to host a breeding management seminar. The purpose of this program was to update producers about estrous synchronization programs, especially a newly approved synch program called the “EAZI-BREED CIDR.” Research reflects this system improves the timing and efficiency of breeding programs by tightening the estrous synchronization window and inducing fertile estrous in non-cycling cows.

The breeding management seminar was held at the McNay Memorial Research Farm in Lucas county in March 2003. Over 75 beef producers attended the program that featured four educational presentations. The presenters (Byron Leu, Joe Sellers and representatives from Genex CRI and Pharmacia) highlighted management practices and selection areas that need to be addressed to ensure success in synchronization programs. A demonstration was conducted to show how to properly use the CIDR insert in the breeding system protocol. The goal of the program is to encourage the use of ‘known' genetics through the use of synchronization programs. In properly managed, these systems would expect approximately 80% of the females to initiate estrous in a 3-4 day period, allowing for the use of AI at a reduced labor expense. Therefore, producers would expect improved genetic gain, higher value and performance calves, improved uniformity score, and reduced time and labor.

The program also supports the cooperation of Iowa State University Extension and Iowa Beef Center staff with agribusinesses such as Genex CRI and Pharmacia. The real winners of this program are the beef producers—for they were given the opportunity to improve their breeding system by adapting new technology. Through this networking effort, extension and industry representatives were able to present a focused, unified message that can make an economic difference in their beef operation. This approach reflects a positive image for extension—showing our effort to be “ahead of the curve” as well as the willingness to cooperate with agribusinesses to present sound and useful information.

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