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Calving season and breeding season are two extremely important times of the year for the cattle rancher.

They are seasons that set the foundation of your profits.

If calving season doesn’t go well, it’s likely that breeding season won’t be as successful as it once could have been. Additionally, if breed-up rates are poor, there will be fewer calves come next calving season. Yet, the cycle continues, and can either steadily get worse, or steadily get better. And it’s up to you which trend your ranching operation will follow.

No doubt, improving calving and breeding success year after year is the end goal, but often, it’s not as simple as it sounds on paper. And while there are many things that are out of your control, like the weather and the markets, there are some things you can do to greatly increase your chance of success during calving season and breeding season. One of the most important factors that will affect calving and breeding success is a high-quality cattle supplement program. Not only is it important during calving, but a quality supplement plays a critical role before, during, and after breeding as well.

At Riomax®, we are passionate about providing tools, in the form of high-quality mineral supplements, to ranchers across the nation. Our goal is to increase your chance of success and profitability, year after year. We may sound like a broken record, but the effects of a high-quality supplement program are hard to ignore. Whether it’s decreasing calf sickness or increasing conception rates, it’s all about making your life easier and your wallet heavier.

High-Quality Supplement Program: Pre-Calving To Breeding

Providing good, sound nutrition to your cows before calving season, during the third trimester, undoubtedly has an impact on calving performance. Whether it be reducing calf sickness by building mineral reserves or helping cows clean, a quality supplement is necessary before and during calving season. But what some ranchers don’t realize is the importance of keeping that mineral out all the way through to breeding season and beyond. It can have a direct impact on the performance of your herd and ultimately, your bottom line.

What are some of the main factors that impact your success during calving and breeding season?

  • Inflammations
  • Retained placentas 
  • Open cows 
  • Uneven calf crop
  • Overall cow performance

Inflammations & Retained Placentas

How can you expect a cow to build, grow, and take care of another animal if she isn’t even healthy herself?

Internal and external issues like deficiencies and inflammations signal to the cow that the reproductive system should be put on hold until the problem is taken care of. When these issues become prevalent, it takes time for the animal to build itself back up and get the inflammations and deficiencies taken care of. Only then is the cow’s body fit and ready to turn the reproductive system back on and breed up successfully. 

Issues can also arise after the calf is born. If mama cow doesn’t clean well and ends up with a retained placenta, it will delay her ability to re-breed. When a cow gets bred late, she’ll also have her calf late, resulting in an uneven calf crop.

What is the Cost of an Open Cow?

If you’re not ahead of the game and paying sufficient attention to the quality of your livestock supplement and when you offer it, you may find yourself in a tight spot later on. If a cow isn’t at her peak nutrition-wise during breeding season, she won’t be able to fight off inflammations as well and is more likely to run open.

An open cow costs you money, no matter which angle you look at it from. While you could sell the cow, the price you get for her is highly unlikely to cover the cost of replacing her. If you decide to keep the cow and run her open for the year, you’re also losing money. That means you have to feed her and take care of her, yet she’s producing nothing for you in return. 

Regardless of which way you look at it, an open cow is an unnecessary cost for you. That’s why it’s essential to be ahead of the game. Be proactive with your mineral supplementation plan so that you can set your animals up for the highest chance of success. An animal with sufficient mineral levels is more likely to fulfill its genetic potential, breed up in a timely fashion, and reach peak performance than an animal with inadequate mineral levels.

It’s important to be aware, though, that not all mineral is created equal. Be sure to analyze the tag of your supplement and ensure the mineral is in a highly-available form (100% protected). For example, sulfates and oxides are found in some mineral supplements, which have very low availability and are unlikely to make it to where they need to go, the bloodstream. In fact, sulfates and oxides can even be detrimental to the microbes in the rumen and the soil.

→ Learn more about protected mineral vs. sulfates and oxides. 

Minerals can’t do it all on their own, either. A multi-component digestion pack is another key component to optimizing your animals’ efficiency and production. 

There is another thing to take into account: it’s not just what you feed the cow, it’s when you feed it.

Sulfates & Oxides VS. Protected Trace Minerals Demonstration

using a sugar cube, gobstopper, & ring pop...

How Soon Should You Provide Mineral Before Breeding?

In order to give yourself the best chance of high conception rates and a tight calving window, it’s critical to provide mineral to your animals at the proper times. 

Cows must have mineral in front of them a MINIMUM of 90 days before breeding; not only is she preparing for breeding, she’d still feeding a calf as well. A cow’s mineral levels must be up to par so she can clean well, recover well, and then get bred faster. For the absolute chance of success, the cow should have mineral available to her even prior to calving. This will have a direct impact on your breeding season, calf crop, and ultimately, your bottom line.

Impact Your Herd’s Breeding Performance, Calf Crop With Quality Mineral Supplementation

With the right mineral program, effective mineral and digestion components, and correct timing, it is possible to achieve the results your operation is after.

The faster your animals reach their peak nutrition, the faster they will get bred, and the more uniform your calf crop will be in months down the road. 

You well-know that cattle buyers and feedlots are looking for uniform calf crops. Calves with even weights make it much easier and more efficient for wherever they go next, and you’ll get a premium for it. 

We’ve seen it on countless ranches over the years; those who have a high-quality supplement program and make it available pre-calving, or at minimum, 90 days pre-breeding, have far better breeding success than ranches that put mineral out just days before bull turn-out. Why exactly? Providing mineral as soon as possible allows the cows’ mineral levels to rise to where they should be, allowing them to clean and reset faster. Ultimately, the faster a cow can go into heat, the faster she breeds back, and the tighter your next calf crop will be.

Making these important connections between calving, breeding, and your mineral supplementation will have a direct impact on your bottom line. Analyze your own operation. Are you connecting the dots, and creating the best chance of success for your livestock, your bank account, and ultimately, your family?

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