This year, as farmers are uncertain about feed prices and the availability of hay, makes it a necessity for farmers to think about culling older livestock.
Culling refers to the practice of selecting an animal and getting rid of it.
There are many reasons you might decide to cull a cow.
The two reasons most decide to cull is because the cow does not breed back year after year or she hasn't raised a good calf every year.
However, these are only two of the things a farmer should think about when making decisions to cull.
They should also consider the cow's age, it's health, if it is structurally sound, the economics of the decision, its disposition and breeding issues.
It is no surprise that research has showed that as a cow ages, their rebreeding performance decreases.
Data collected in the 1980s show that rebreeding performance starts to decline as the cow ages from 8-10 years of age.
A steeper decline in reproductive performance was found at 12 years of age.
Thus, it is important to look at the cow's age when deciding if it might be time to cull her.
Health and structural soundness goes together when making the decision to cull.
If you have a cow that is continually ill, then you should sell her.
Likewise, if she is lame, missing several teeth, or has problems with her udder.
Udder soundness affects milk production and consumption because a calf can have difficulty nursing from balloon or funnel-shaped teats.
Any cow that has prolapsed should also be culled because it's likely to recur.
When it comes to economics, it is important to realize that with older cows, you have most likely paid for her.
Thus, the only cost associated with keeping her is feed.
If you go out and buy a replacement heifer, you will have the cost of the heifer and feed.
Most likely, you will not receive any income from the heifer that year because she won't be bred.
It is not surprising when you talk to farmers to find out that they have sold a cow or two because of their disposition.
To be honest, I would recommend selling any cow that you and your family can't safely work.
In my eyes, it is not a good investment to keep a cow around that might hurt anyone who has been educated on how to handle livestock.
For individuals who cull a cow because she is not bred, there might be several reasons as to why she is open (not bred).
First off, her age could be a factor.
Another factor could be the cow's weight.
Cows that are overweight or underweight often do not breed easily.
One factor to consider is the fact that the cow might be open because the bull would not pass a breeding soundness evaluation if given one.
If you think that might be the reason your cow is open, contact your local veterinarian about having a breeding soundness evaluation given on your bull.
As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County or reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.
Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:
* Nov. 22-23 -- County holiday, Extension Office closed,
* Nov. 27 -- Start of Forestlands Workshop, 6-9 p.m., Martinsville. Call 317-631-5263 Ext. 118 to register,
* Nov. 28 -- Goat Workshop. More information on Page 4 of newsletter,
* Nov. 28 -- Post Harvest Update and Recertification Workshop, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., West Lafayette. Log on to http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/grainla... for more information,
* Nov. 29 -- Owen County Extension Board meeting, 6:30 p.m., Owen County Extension Office, and
* Nov. 30 -- MarketReady Indiana, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Cost is $60, in Terre Haute. Call 812-462-3371 to register.