A. Purpose The primary objective of this exercise is to utilize reproductive management principles and technologies to maximize reproductive performance in a beef herd. Emphasis should be given to the economical integration of reproductive management principles/technologies to accomplish specific reproductive goals. Prepare the plan as though you are going to present it to a loan officer in a bank.b Consequently, the components of the plan (see section II below) should be clear, concise, and convincing!
B. Responsibilities of Group Members .Students will be divided into groups of three and each group will elect a Group Coordinator. The primary responsibilities of the Group Coordinator are to provide the instructor with an update of the groups’ progress and to inform the instructor of any problems the group is experiencing. The final plan must contain each of the sections listed under “Components of the Plan” (A to I). Each member of the group should research the items under Background, Plan for Genetic Improvement, and Marketing Plan and come to a consensus regarding the choice of breed, calving season, breeding season, sire selection, and marketing strategy. One member should write up the Background and Current Reproductive Performance. Another member should write up the Specific Goals and Strategies for Implementing the Goals, and the third another member should write up the Plan for Genetic Improvement and Marketing Plan. Group members should work together to perform the calculations for predicting pregnancy rate, pounds of calf weaned, and yearly economic summary. The final plan must include a statement of the specific contributions of each group member followed by each member’s signature.
September 14 Meet as a group, choose a group coordinator, and decide when to meet on a regular basis.
September 21 Choose a breed or breed combination for your herd.
September 28 Assign responsibilities to group members.
October 17 Complete Background Info and Current Reproductive Performance.
October 26 Complete Specific Goals, Strategies for accomplishing goals, and Timeline.
November 9 Complete Prediction of Reproductive Performance, Economic Summary, and Plan for Genetic Improvement.
November 14 Review plan, make final modifications, prepare Reproductive and Economic Summary, and begin preparing oral presentation.
November 18Reproductive Management Plan due by noon.
II. Components of the Plan
Background Information – Discuss in detail the farm/ranch environment (climate, terrain, primary forage available, availability of grain, and stocking rate), optimum season for calving, optimum season for breeding, and choice of breed (or breed cross). You need to provide a strong justification of your choice of breed or breed cross!
Current Reproductive Performance – Provide a rigorous assessment of the current level of reproductive performance in the herd, including calculations of the current reproductive performance and the current breakeven price (cost per pound of calf weaned). Discuss in detail the reasons for the current low level of reproductive performance.
Specific Goals - List the specific goals you want to accomplish and justify each goal economically. Don’t confuse goals and strategies. An example of a goal would be to increase the percent calf crop weaned from 72% to 85% and one strategy for accomplishing this goal would be to increase the proportion of early calving cows.
Strategies for Implementing Goals - Discuss different strategies for accomplishing each goal (i.e. split the herd from one to two calving seasons per year, cull late calving cows and introduce early calving heifers, etc.). Include a timeline that illustrates changes in the length of the breeding and calving seasons over time.
Genetic Improvement Plan - Identify the specific breeding objectives for your herd and include the economically relevant traits that you will be giving emphasis to (i.e. calving ease, weaning weight, yearling weight, carcass traits, etc.). Note that the traits you select for must be consistent with your specific goals (part C) and your marketing plan (part F). You need to list specific AI sires and a justification for using each sire. If using natural service you need to identify where you will purchase your bulls. Next you will calculate the effect the AI sires will have on the overall EPD profile for the herd for the five year period.
Marketing Plan - Write a description of your marketing plan and justify why your group chose the specific marketing system. For example, if you choose to market your calves at weaning you will need to economically justify that this is the most economical option! You have the freedom to use your creativity with marketing your cattle. If you want to market seedstock or add value to your cattle through improving carcass quality, see me about how to do this on the economic sheets.
Prediction of Reproductive Performance - For each year, list the specific reproductive management practices that will be used to accomplish each goal and provide an annual timeline. Predict reproductive performance (pregnancy rate, pounds of calf weaned) and net profit or loss for each year using the computer program.
Reproductive and Economic Summary - Summarize the effect your management plan had on reproductive performance (pregnancy rate; pounds of calf weaned) and net profit or loss for each of the five years. You can do this by including the excel sheet that is provided on the repro plan website.
In addition, you should provide a paragraph or two on how you feel the actual performance of your herd might differ from the projections made on the excel sheets. A few examples are included below:
By using sires with excellent carcass traits, we believe that over time retaining ownership in our calves will bring us additional premiums. Alternatively, we believe that opportunities may exist to market our calves directly to a feedlot for a premium." You can elaborate as much as you want to, including information on the high heritability of carcass traits, a value based pricing grid, etc.
Due to our extreme climatic environment, we fear that our calf losses may be higher than projected. Weather conditions in Montana can be very harsh, even late into the spring or early in the fall. Further, our environment necessitates very large pastures in rough terrain that are difficult to access and monitor closely. Predators also remain a concern in our environment." You could discuss the pros and cons of implementing more intensive management to reduce calf mortality (e.g. pro – increased pounds of calf weaned; cons - increased labor, increased feed costs to drylot at calving, etc.).
C. Increased culling of cows. In the excel sheets cows are only culled due a failure to conceive; however, in reality there are additional reasons that cows are culled such as poor disposition, udder quality, etc. Might want to include a more thorough discussion of the reasons to cull cows and the importance of placing selection pressure on stayability and the effects of crossbreeding on longevity in the herd.
Additional Profit Center - Finally, you should identify an additional profit center for your operation (e.g. agrotourism, hunting expeditions, fishing expeditions, guest ranch, etc).
III. Suggestions for starting the Plan
Carefully review the information on the AnSc 4384 web site regarding the repro plan (http://animalsciences.missouri.edu/courses/4384/repro_plan/index.php). In particular, familiarize yourself with the animal inventory, management information, and marketing information.
B. Learn as much as possible about the environment in which your farm/ranch is located (e.g. climate, forage availability, stocking rate, etc)! This will help you determine the choice of breed. As you investigate the environment in which your farm or ranch is located you will need to determine the optimum time of year for your calving season and breeding season. Give special attention to matching the nutritional requirements of your cow herd with forage availability! Maximixing profitability will be dependent upon reducing your cost of production! Maximizing the amount of grazing is a good way to reduce the cost of production since feeding harvested feeds is more expensive then grazing.
C. Before choosing a breed you need to decide whether you will be managing a purebred operation, a commercial operation, or both. If you plan to have a commercial operation you will probably want to utilize a crossbred female. Crossbreeding has been show to increase calving rate by 6%, calf survival to weaning by 4%, weaning weight by 8%, yearling weight by 4%, and weaning weight per cow exposed by 23%. Additional advantages of crossbreeding include increased disease resistance (reduced incidence of pink eye and bovine respiratory disease) as well as increased environmental adaptability. When choosing the breeds to incorporate into a crossbreeding situation make sure you emphasize breed complimentarity. Furthermore, be sure to match your selection of breed to the environment of your farm or ranch.
D. Assess the current level of reproductive performance (see animal inventory on web site) using some of the measurements that were covered in class (see problem 2). Carefully analyze the reproductive state of the herd and identify specific problems.
E. Based on what you learn from the assessment of current reproductive performance, identify your reproductive goals and provide an economic justification for the goals. I will provide with an example of how to justify your goals.
F. I will show you how to calculate the breakeven price (cost per pound of calf weaned) for the operation as it is currently managed and you will use this number to determine your marketing strategy. Once you have determined your marketing strategy and whether or not you will raise your own replacement heifers, you will be able to begin determining which sires you will select (genetics section of the plan.
Finally, be sure to read the emails I send with tips on how to prepare the plan!
IV. Organization of Reproductive Management Plan
Cover page (include group no., location, and names of group members).
Include a detailed description of what each member of the group contributed to the plan and include each members’ signature next to what they contributed.
Detailed discussion of farm/ranch environment.
Assessment of current reproductive performance – provide as much detail as possible including your breakeven price (cost per pound of calf weaned).
Identify specific goals and provide an economic justification for each goal.
Describe different strategies for accomplishing your specific goals.
Identify specific objectives for the genetic improvement of the herd. I will provide you with a handout that will explain what should be included. Include the excel sheet.
Describe your marketing plan and provide an economic justification.
Calculations – Each year (1 to 5) should contain the following information.
Specific management procedures (bulleted!)
Heifer reproduction sheet (excel sheet)
Cow reproduction sheet (excel sheet)
Calf management sheet (excel sheet; optional)
Economic justification (excel sheet)
Repeat above for each year
Based on your location identify an additional profit center for your operation. This could include hunting, fishing, a guest ranch, or agrotourism (corn maze, hay rides, etc). This will be a separate profit center and not impact the economics of your reproductive management plan.