Bull Management

Transition to a Controlled Breeding Season

Victoria G Myers
By  Victoria G. Myers , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
A controlled breeding season will help any operation get calving time down to a manageable 60 to 90 days. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Joel Reichenberger)

Cattle producers cannot expect to go from a 365-day calving season to a 60- or 90-day season within one year. More feasible is a progressive three- or four-year plan. Here are some tips from Virginia Cooperative Extension:

1. Look at your existing handling and grazing facilities, and improve or adapt with your end goal in mind. You'll need a place to separate the bull(s) from the herd and good facilities for preg-checks or AI (artificial insemination) work.

2. Define your best calving season based on forage availability and marketing goals.

3. Sixty days after removing the bull(s) from the herd, preg-check all cows and breeding-age heifers. Cull nongestating, dry cows confirmed open. If she has a nursing calf 5 months or older and was exposed to the bull, cull her after the calf is weaned.

4. Replacement heifers should be bred to a calving-ease bull by AI or natural service 20 to 30 days ahead of the breeding of the mature cow herd.

5. Six months after removal of the bull(s) from the herd, introduce the bull(s) again, targeting (or shifting to) a breeding season of 6 months before being removed again from the herd.

6. Sixty days after bull removal, repeat Step 3.

7. Year two, repeat Steps 4 and 5, except this time, leave the bull in with the cows so the breeding season is 4.5 months long. Repeat Step 3.

8. Year three, repeat Steps 4 and 5, but now remove bull(s) after 3 months' exposure. Preg-check all females 60 days after bull removal, and cull open females.


Virginia Cooperative Extension guide on transitioning to a controlled calving season:


Victoria Myers