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Controlled mating


We’ve managed a few properties around Central
Queensland. The home property here at Bendemere is used
mainly for breeding bulls that then go on to be used in the commercial breeding herds
at the other other properties. I’ve been using controlled mating here at Bendemere
here for getting close to 40 years now. It means we can have all our calves, you know
in the short calving period the progeny that are produced are all of a similar age say
in two to three years time when you come to sell bullocks, you’ve got a number of cattle
there that are all right for the market and the right time. We time our calving window so that the the
peak nutrition for the breeders is that at the similar time to when the the calves are
starting to put a greater demand on the breeders and this then means we can keep a decent body
condition on our breeders and makes it easier for the breeders to get back in calf the following
year. Body condition scores are important, we need
to have our cows in a body condition score of three or better at the end of the dry season
when she’s calving. We’re expecting her to get pregnant in the
first forty two days after calving to have a calf every year. She needs to be cycling quickly and in good
condition to do so. It’s all about measure and manage and having
the plan to go with it. With pregnancy testing we can walk straight
in there and say yes we’re going to have an 80% pregnancy rate so that means we should
rescue something out of that of about 75 percent calving on the number of cattle we have got. We want to organize joining so that calves
are dropping six weeks before our green dates. That is six weeks before we can expect any
amount of rain that’s going to produce useful forage or useful grass pastures. To calculate our green date we use form data
or rain man data and we look at when is a 70% chance of receiving fifty millimeters
over three days between the months of October and March. Controlled mating makes it easier for unproductive
animals to be identified and culled. It is a useful tool to maximize production
while matching grazing pressure to carrying capacity, which leads to healthier and more
productive pastures, better ground cover, reduced sediment loss and improved water quality. In the modern world of beef production in
Australia we have to be continually striving to better ourselves, we need to be aiming
to improve year-on-year, you know, looking for any way that we can improve the productivity
and the efficiencies in our beef enterprise. One of the big things we must take into consideration
that once we’ve gone to the trouble of controlled mating and have got everything lined up there
we’ve got to protect our investment, not only in the herd but in to our programs of what
we are trying to achieve. The first thing we’ve got to do is get the
cow in calf we’ve got to make sure that they’re going to go in calf, that we’ve eliminated
all the obstacles. One of the big obstacles that does come in
is the major reproductive disease of Vibriosis, a venereal disease that is transmitted by
bulls at mating from cow to cow. That is quite leisurely controlled as the
vaccination are available, but vaccinations are made by companies for a specific purpose
and that is to be used, so vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate. Pregnancy testing and fetal aging our handy
tools in the transition from having the bulls in all year round to a control mated herd. The herd can be drafted according to pregnancy
status and how many months pregnant the cows are. Cows calving over dry season can be sold pregnancy
tested in calf or if kept segregated and supplemented with a protein and energy supplement, separately
from the main herd. You know control mating is not a new thing
it’s been been around for a number of years. As we move forward as an industry we have
to be continually looking for ways that make us more competitive on the world stage. There’s got to be a lot of time and energy
spent looking inwards on your business and looking at ways that you can improve how we
do things and to us controlled mating is just one tool and now in our tool belt that we
can use that improves our business. I’m certain that we’re able to get a lot better
handle on the productivity of our herd because we use controlled mating and I think that
puts us in good stead for moving forward and hopefully facing the challenges that come
our way in the future. Cows calving October through to December are
already in step and ready for the bulls. Cows calving late may need to be weaned early. A pregnancy test will also give you some information
about how many calves to expect for budgeting purposes rather than just pulling the bulls
out and having no idea on the effects on future cash flow. If you need a hand in calculating your key
dates, your joining dates to go controlled mating, please contact your local beef extension
officer.

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