Food Values Applied to Livestock Products

Consumers value several attributes when they make food purchase decisions. Food values refer to underlying consumer preferences that include food quality, taste, price, nutrition, health, safety, and how a product is produced. How meat and dairy products are produced, whether or not production practices are documented or audited, and how raw products are processed are of increasing interest to consumers. The goal of this research was to determine relative rankings of food values and assess food value ranking variance among US consumers.

A survey was conducted from a broad representative sample of US consumers based on Census data with 1,950 respondents. Using a technique referred to as best-worst scaling, the consumers answered a set of questions that enabled us to rank their preferences for 11 different food values for ground beef, steak, chicken breast, and fluid milk. The 11 attributes were food safety, product freshness, nutrition, healthiness of consuming, taste, price, hormone/antibiotic free production, animal welfare assurance, environmental impact of production, origin of product, and product convenience to prepare.

Safety ranked either first or second most important for each of the four products. Freshness was the next most important. On the other end of the spectrum, consistently least important of the 11 values were environmental impact, animal welfare, origin, and convenience. However, notable differences were present across respondents. Most noteworthy, there is an important distinction between consumers who rank price as a very high priority – suggesting a price sensitive consumer – and those who rank health, hormone/antibiotic free, animal welfare, and taste highly. The alignment into a price sensitive group was not related to respondent gender, age, income, and family size, product consumption frequency, region of residence or shopping location.

It is important to recognize that relatively low-ranked food values among the 11 examined still have some level of importance to consumers. However, results also suggest some product attributes such as safety and freshness offer considerable appeal to most consumers. In addition, segments of consumers are especially price sensitive whereas another important segment will respond positively to health, hormone/antibiotic free, animal welfare, and taste. Product positioning variability will appeal differentially to subsets of consumers.

Lister, G, GT Tonsor, M Brix, TC Schroeder, and C Yang. (2017) “Food values applied to livestock products.” Journal of Food Products Marketing 23,3 Link

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Brad White Takes Over as AVC President

Announcement and photo by John Maday, Bovine Veterinarian

Incoming AVC president Dr. Brad White (left) thanks past president Dr. Tom Portillo for his service.

Incoming AVC president Dr. Brad White (left) thanks past president Dr. Tom Portillo for his service.

During the Academy of Veterinary Consultants (AVC) Spring Conference recently, Kansas State University veterinarian Brad White, DVM, MS, began his term as AVC president. White succeeds past president Tom Portillo, a feedyard consultant from Amarillo Texas.

At Kansas State, White serves as professor of production medicine and director of the Beef Cattle Institute. White earned his DVM at the University of Missouri-Columbia and Masters of Science degree from Mississippi State University. He currently teaches courses in advanced cow-calf production management, production medicine, rural food animal business management and applied production medicine.

He conducts research in beef production and management with focus areas of cow-calf, stocker, and feeder calf health systems, bovine respiratory disease prevention, diagnosis, and management, utilization of operational data to enhance decisions and veterinary practice business management.

Previously published on www.bovinevetonline.com.

Rural Practitioner

Dr. Robert Rust and Family

Dr. Robert Rust and Family

Dr. Robert Rust
Green Valley Veterinary Services
Wamego, Kansas

By Audrey Hambright

For Dr. Robert Rust, establishing a strong educational background and developing a good work ethic at a young age, will help lay the foundation for a fulfilling career in veterinary medicine.

From a young age growing up on his family’s farm near Kensington, Kansas, Rust had always wanted to be a veterinarian. Yet after starting out at Kansas State University as a pre-vet student, he was unsure if he wanted to commit to eight years of school. Rust switched to the wildlife biology program, for which he obtained his undergraduate degree. After working for environmental agencies and the public health sector, he decided he still wanted to be a veterinarian. In 2003, he applied and was accepted to the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine.

A group of first calf heifers at the Rust operation.

A group of first calf heifers at the Rust operation.

Upon graduation from veterinary school, Rust gained experience in mixed animal practice at the Lyons Veterinary Clinic in Lyons, Kansas, followed by the Twin Rivers Veterinary Clinic in Columbus, Nebraska. In 2010 after returning to Kansas, he made the decision to start his own practice in a building right behind his house where he practiced primarily large animal medicine for three years before he had the opportunity to purchase the practice in Wamego. Rust has been owner and sole practitioner at Green Valley Veterinary Services ever since.

His decision to own a practice came from his combined interest in both business and veterinary medicine, as well as the freedom to practice how he saw fit.

“As a solo practitioner, you’re limited on what you can do with your time,” he said. “It allows you to practice how you want to practice.”

However, the key, he added, is learning how to balance practice life and family life.

In addition to his love for animals, Rust has realized as he’s grown older that he enjoys the bond with the people just as much.

“As a rural practitioner, you’re not only involved in people’s livestock, but people’s lives,” he said. “You tend to have a family relationship with some of these people, not just a doctor/client relationship.”

Dr. Rust’s granddaughter helping administer fluids to a client’s calf.

Dr. Rust’s granddaughter helping administer fluids to a client’s calf.

While technology has changed the way veterinarians practice, it has also changed the way clients receive information such as trying to make their own diagnosis from the resources available online. Even though this presents a challenge, Rust encourages rural practitioners to research choices and make wise decisions that can lead the development of something unique to offer a rural community, such as consulting or artificial insemination services.

On top of managing a busy mixed animal practice and family time, Rust is also a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and has been involved with the Academy of Veterinary Consultants (AVC).

Producer Spotlight

Dave & Cindy Judd

Dave and Cindy Judd

Dave & Cindy Judd
Judd Ranch
Pomona, Kansas

By Audrey Hambright

David and Cindy Judd started Judd Ranch in 1981 with the goal of producing profitable and functional genetics for commercial cattlemen. They raise Gelbvieh, Balancer and Red Angus seedstock with an annual bull sale in March and annual female sale in October.

Natives of Fairbury, Nebraska, David and Cindy relocated to Pomona, Kansas, after purchasing the ranch in 1981. Soon after, they began building the foundation of their current genetics.

David and Cindy have two sons, Nick and Brent. Nick and his wife, Ginger, have three children: Lily (12), Levi (9), and Lacy (7). Brent and his wife, Ashley, have two children: Oliver (3) and Avery (5 months). All of the family works on the ranch full time. Nick, Brent, and both spouses are graduates of Kansas State University.

The Judd Family pictured left to right: Lily, Dave, Cindy, Lacy, Nick, Ginger, Levi, Brent, Oliver, and Ashley.

The Judd Family pictured left to right: Lily, Dave, Cindy, Lacy, Nick, Ginger, Levi, Brent, Oliver, and Ashley.

Success to the Judd Ranch can be defined in many ways.

“Sometimes we take for granted the miracles that happen in our business, such as a healthy, newborn calf or a good rain to green pastures up,” David said. “We feel especially rewarded when our customers return to us year after year to purchase seed stock.”

Rewarding, yet challenging is the beef business. According to David, aside from the unpredictable challenges that can’t be controlled, such as weather and markets, government regulation is a major factor in the industry’s future.

“I am hopeful the new administration will move us in the right direction, but we need to make our voices heard and not allow ourselves to be controlled by the liberal agenda,” he added.

David and Cindy were inducted into the American Gelbvieh Association (AGA) Hall of Fame in 2016. The ranch has been the AGA’s number one breeder and owner of Dams of Merit and Dams of Distinction for 18 of the past 19 years.

Using Genetic Testing to Improve Fed Cattle Marketing Decisions

The beef industry has three main ways to market fed cattle, live weight, dressed weight, and grid pricing. Past studies have evaluated the benefit of using readily available information such as visual assessment of weight and body condition and additional information such as, ultrasound technology and genetic marker panels. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics assessed the value of using genetic information provided in the form of molecular breeding values (MBVs) for seven traits (yield grade, marbling, average daily gain, hot-carcass weight, rib-eye area, tenderness, and days-on-feed) to inform decisions about the optimum marketing method as well as optimum days-on-feed. The study evaluated 10,209 cattle fed in six Midwestern feed yards from 2007 to 2008. First baseline scenarios, marketing all groups of cattle as live weight, dressed weight, or grid basis, were used. Then genetic information was added into the scenarios and cattle were sorted by this additional information. A third scenario was used that estimated a marketing scenario with “perfect information”.

The value of using genetic information characterizing yield grade and marbling to sort cattle into marketing groups in the study ranged from $1 to $13 per head, with the greatest improvement in net return and the greatest reduction in variability occurring in cattle optimally marketed using grid pricing. One conclusion of the study was that having additional genetic information reduced the risk for value-based marketing which may be particularly important for risk-averse producers. Interestingly, the scenarios using “perfect information” only had slightly improved net return compared to the genetic information currently available, indicating relatively little additional economic return for improved genetic tests.  The study concluded that using genetic information to optimize fed cattle marketing decision has the potential to improve transmission of market signals for carcass quality traits through the beef cattle supply chain, and that this information has the potential for increased net returns of 1$-13$/head. 

Thompson, Nathanael M., Eric A. DeVuyst, B. Wade Brorsen, Jayson L. Lusk (2016). “Using Genetic Testing to Improve Fed Cattle Marketing Decisions.” Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics 41(2):286-306. Link

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Associations between feed efficiency and reproduction function

In the midst of bull sale season, most producers have a few key traits in mind, depending on their operation. For producers looking for a bull to sire “easy keeping” cattle, researchers in Canada, have reason to believe that selecting for bulls with desirable feed efficiency might put negative selection on passing a breeding soundness examination as a yearling. In light of the exponentially increasing human population, producers and researchers have been diligently addressing tools to efficiently feed the growing world. One solution, utilizes Residual Feed Intake (RFI) as a way to quantify feed efficiency of cattle. A low RFI indicates an animal who is extremely efficient in comparison to their contemporaries, or one who gains weight on less feed.

In the research conducted, an inverse relationship between feed efficiency and reproductive function was found. This study divided bulls into low and high RFI categories to analyze performance. The two groups had a 1.40 kg difference in daily dry matter intake, with low-RFI bulls having a 25-35% reduction in rib fat than high-RFI bulls. Body fat composition influences age at puberty, and shows great importance in this study when considering growing, yearling bulls. Low-RFI bulls were found to have lower sperm motility, and increased sperm abnormalities, both indicators of delayed sexual maturity. This research confirms that genetic improvement requires a balanced selection of traits, not single trait selection. Improvements in traits such as feed efficiency are only valuable if they do not offset improvements made in reproduction performance.

A. B. P. Fontoura, Y. R. Montanholi1a, M. Diel de Amorim, R. A. Foster, T. Chenier and S. P. Miller. Associations between feed efficiency, sexual maturity and fertility-related measures in young beef bulls. Link

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Strategically Growing Kansas Agriculture

By Heather Landsowne and Jason Walker, Kansas Department of Agriculture

2016 Summit LogoIn August 2015, the Kansas Department of Agriculture hosted a meeting of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors. A direct result of that meeting was a call to action to develop growth strategies for Kansas agriculture — no small feat considering agriculture accounts for 43 percent of the state’s economy. Through the first six months of 2016, the KDA ag growth team traveled the state to hold more than 250 one-on-one meetings with leaders from all sectors of Kansas agriculture, gathering information to identify challenges and opportunities for growth of the industry.

This material was used to guide discussion during the first-ever Kansas Governor’s Summit on Agricultural Growth held in August 2016. Nearly 400 leaders representing a variety of agricultural interests from across the state attended the Summit, which featured a series of interactive workshops identifying the challenges and opportunities within individual sectors from traditional agriculture areas like beef, pork and wheat to cotton, specialty livestock, unmanned aerial systems and more. A panel discussion brought attention to the importance of talent and workforce in agriculture, which was also a topic in the afternoon workshops, along with several other issues affecting all sectors across the industry including barriers to entry, consumer awareness and community acceptance of agriculture, global opportunities, transportation and logistics, and water and natural resources. The input from those workshops has been compiled and shared with participants.

Kansas Beef Industry

As the single largest sector in the Kansas agriculture industry, there have been many discussions, during one-on-one meetings and during the Summit, focused on strategic opportunities to grow the Kansas beef industry. During the Summit, beef sector workshops focused on topics related to market volatility, consumer demand, regulatory challenges, consumer and influencer outreach, education and training for beef industry producers and professionals, and the need for a market-driven, voluntary, individual animal traceability system that not only provides critical tools to manage a disease outbreak, but also enhances consumer confidence and trust in Kansas livestock, protects food safety, and provides opportunities to access export markets.

Workforce Needs

From beef and pork to agricultural equipment and animal health, there is a need for individuals with education and training to work in agriculture. During the Summit, there was a strong focus on opportunities related to talent recruitment, training and skill development, federal laws and regulations related to workforce and talent, and affordable housing and quality of life.

Strategic Plans

The KDA ag growth team is now using feedback from the Summit and the one-on-one meetings to develop strategic growth plans which can lead Kansas agriculture into a future focused on growth. The work that has begun as an industry and the development of strategic growth plans for Kansas agriculture will result in an industry that grows stronger and grows smarter as it works to feed, power and clothe a growing global population.

2017 Ag Growth Save the Date Electronic2017 Ag Growth Summit

One recommendation received during this process was to make the Summit an annual event. Therefore, KDA will host the second annual Governor’s Summit on Agricultural Growth on Aug. 24, 2017, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in Manhattan. A social event will be held the evening prior to the Summit. Mark your calendar now.

For more information about the Summit and the strategic growth plan, visit agriculture.ks.gov/summit.

Rural Practitioner

Dr. Amy Bandel
Mill Creek Veterinary Services
Alma, Kansas

By Audrey Hambright

Dr. Amy Bandel checking cattle.

Dr. Amy Bandel checking cattle.

Dr. Amy Bandel is no stranger to adversity. Her journey has given her the strength and experience to be a successful rural practitioner.

An alumnus of the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Bandel originally started her education with a focus on animal science and communications. Before starting at K-State, she managed the student radio station and competed on the livestock judging team at Cloud County Community College with plans to pursue a career in those fields. She always had the idea from a young age that she wanted to become a veterinarian, but it wasn’t until she was a student in Dr. Dan Upson’s A&P class that she realized how well she was doing in comparison to the pre-vet students. Her junior year, she met with her counselor to change her curriculum and cram all the required classes needed for pre-vet in her last two undergraduate semesters.

“I knew that if I didn’t at least try, I would always wonder if I could do it,” she said.

Bandel went forward fully expecting to have to apply for veterinary school a second time, but to her surprise, she was accepted on her first try.

Dr. Bandel conducts a bull test.

Dr. Bandel conducts a bull test.

After graduation in 1993, Bandel went to work for Sourk Veterinary Clinic in Scott City, Kansas. Her goal was to leave the familiarity of the Flint Hills and cow/calf production for somewhere she could see a lot of cattle and the abundance of feedlots gave her just that. From there, she went to Montana where a former colleague had started a practice. Bandel was only in Montana for six months, due to the untimely passing of her colleague, Dr. Bryan Rein. Because she was no longer covered by his license, she would need to wait and take the boards to be able to practice veterinary medicine in Montana.

Out of necessity, Bandel returned home to Wabaunsee County, Kansas, and started her mobile veterinary practice, Mill Creek Veterinary Services, now 20 years strong. Based south of Alma, her practice clientele is made up of 90 percent beef cattle operations. She’s also performs relief work for surrounding local clinics.

Even though her clinic is on wheels, she feels she’s at an advantage when it comes to creating a herd health program for her clients.

“My situation is really unique in that I’m out there first-hand and can see the environment the cattle are in,” she said. “I can walk around, look at animal and pasture conditions. This gives an advantage to determine a disease process or suggest a management change by the owner.”

Currently, she feels the recent changes to the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) have added a whole new challenge to the industry. According to Bandel, once producers and feed mill operators are following label directions and the right guidelines, it will be fine. Moreover, more producers will need to reach out to veterinarians.

Her advice for young professionals pursuing a degree or entering the workforce in veterinary medicine, is to get experience – both in extracurricular activities and in the field.

“In addition to working around animals, extracurricular activities are good reflections of work ethic and ability to get out into the public eye,” she said.

Dr. Bandel analyzes semen collected for testing.

Dr. Bandel analyzes semen collected for testing.

She also hopes new graduates will take the incentive to gain more hands-on experience before going into practice.

“It would be of good benefit [for a student] to travel with a veterinarian to gain more experience in general practice and develop instinctive diagnostic skills,” she said. “Especially in rural practices. You have to make judgements in the field and decide how to pursue treatment.”

Not only does she cover a 45-mile radius visiting clients with her mobile practice, but she makes time for her community as a fair board member, volunteering with the local county fair and staying active at her church.  She also enjoys what free time she has helping on the ranch west of Alma where she keeps her small herd of commercial cows.

Bandel’s career in veterinary medicine may have not started how she pictured it, but her challenges created new strength to make it a success.

“When adversity strikes, there’s always opportunity to overcome it,” she said. “Not overnight, but you just have to have patience and things will turn around.”

Producer Spotlight

The Moser family just after their 25th bull sale. Back row (l to r): Cameron Moser, Rex Michaelis, Tate & Tucker Michaelis, Lisa, Harry, and Ty Josefiak. Front row (l to r): Carrie Moser holding Thane, Kendra Michaelis holding Tenley, Kayla Josefiak holding Nora.

The Moser family just after their 25th bull sale. Back row (l to r): Cameron Moser, Rex Michaelis, Tate & Tucker Michaelis, Lisa, Harry, and Ty Josefiak. Front row (l to r): Carrie Moser holding Thane, Kendra Michaelis holding Tenley, Kayla Josefiak holding Nora.

Harry & Lisa Moser
Moser Ranch
Wheaton, Kansas

By Audrey Hambright

Harry and Lisa Moser of Moser Ranch near Wheaton, Kansas, have made an excellent team. From performing all aspects of physical labor around the ranch, to making management and business decisions, their approach has helped create a thriving, family-run operation.

Harry, born and raised in North Dakota, was attending a Block & Bridle Conference in Fargo as an animal science student from North Dakota State University, where he met Lisa, an animal science student from Kansas State University. Both were raised on diversified agriculture operations engraining in each of them a love for beef cattle, leading them to pursue common educational endeavors and eventually getting married in 1982.

The Moser’s started their journey together working on Harry’s parents’ operation before they were presented with an opportunity to manage a ranch in Kansas, four years later. The move allowed them to bring their own cow herd with them, giving them the chance to continue to build their genetic lines. Eight years later, they set out on their own and moved north of Wheaton to establish their own operation.

The Moser outfit shoots their own bull video each year. They have done this for every one of their 25 sales. Pictured left to right is the 2016 video crew: Neighbor Tim Murray on “Diesel,” son-in-law Rex Michaelis, friends Kelly Miller and his son Taegen, brother-in-law and part-time help Les Holthaus, Harry and grandsons Tate and Tucker on “Mav.” Lisa is behind the camera lens.

The Moser outfit shoots their own bull video each year. They have done this for every one of their 25 sales. Pictured left to right is the 2016 video crew: Neighbor Tim Murray on “Diesel,” son-in-law Rex Michaelis, friends Kelly Miller and his son Taegen, brother-in-law and part-time help Les Holthaus, Harry and grandsons Tate and Tucker on “Mav.” Lisa is behind the camera lens.

Since striking out on their own and continuing to pursue avenues in the purebred seedstock business, Moser Ranch has come to sit on a solid, 35-year foundation. The ranch herd is comprised of Simmental, Angus and SimAngus genetics. Last November, they held their 25th annual bull sale. The largest portion of their customer base, which numbers 375, is within 200 miles, but they have sold cattle across the U.S. and Canada. Their product is very commercially oriented, according to the Mosers, with 99 percent of their bulls sold to the commercial cow-calf man.

Their customer’s success and loyalty is how Moser Ranch defines their own success. Each year, 85 percent of their bulls are sold to repeat buyers.

“By the customers coming back, we feel like we’re raising the right product,” Lisa said.

However, not only providing the right product has increased return buyers, but their level of customer service. Follow-up visits, customer suppers and meetings as well as creating a market for their bull buyer’s products, are just a few of the way they have built customer loyalty.

“If we can add value, they see a reason to buy breeding stock from us,” Harry said.

The lifestyle can be challenging, but ultimately they find it to be the biggest reward for their family.

“It’s a great way to raise kids,” Lisa said. “It teaches them responsibility and a love for the land.”

“It’s a great way of life,” Harry added.

Since their first year of marriage, they’ve set targets and have been detailed in their decision making, carefully considering new opportunities. Each major decision that has been made on the ranch included a list of pros and cons to evaluate whether that opportunity was in best interest of the future of the ranch.

Harry and Lisa regularly guest speak in classes in the K-State animal science department and host livestock judging team workouts at the ranch. One piece of crucial advice they share with their senior classes is applicable to anyone.

The Moser Ranch hosted the 7th and 8th grade Science Classes from Mater Dei Junior High in Topeka, Kansas, on April 20, 2016, for a “Day on the Ranch/Farm.” They saw first-hand where and how the beef they eat is produced, they viewed the cattle and facilities, heard the story of the ranch horses and cattle dogs, climbed inside of the semi-trucks, tractors, combines and swathers, and then enjoyed a hamburger lunch with the family. The Moser Family is always proud to tell the story of American Agriculture to consumers.

The Moser Ranch hosted the 7th and 8th grade Science Classes from Mater Dei Junior High in Topeka, Kansas, on April 20, 2016, for a “Day on the Ranch/Farm.” They saw first-hand where and how the beef they eat is produced, they viewed the cattle and facilities, heard the story of the ranch horses and cattle dogs, climbed inside of the semi-trucks, tractors, combines and swathers, and then enjoyed a hamburger lunch with the family. The Moser Family is always proud to tell the story of American Agriculture to consumers.

“In order to be really good at any job,” Harry said. “You have to understand the industry from top to bottom and stay informed on all aspects of the business.”

To help do this, they are involved in industry organizations that both represent their interests and keep them up to date; the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) and the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF). Harry has served on the board of directors for both the KLA and the American Simmental Association (ASA) and served as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the ASA in 2007. Lisa is a member of the Livestock and Meat Industry Council and they continue to be active in their community.

Their teamwork and involvement in industry organizations has been rewarding for the operation in more ways than one. In 2003, they were awarded the BIF Seedstock Producer of the Year award and elected Stockman of the Year in 2012 by the K-State Block and Bridle Club.

Harry and Lisa are looking forward to a new endeavor they have recently taken on. They have been hired as consultants for a large herd in the area, advising the company on all beef production practices from genetics to nutrition to ranch management. According to Harry, it’s very “outside the box,” and they’re excited to find a new way to make better beef.

BCI Pregnancy Analytics App: How is the data used?

By Dr. Bob Larson

The BCI Pregnancy Analytics App was released in the fall of 2016 and is being used by veterinarians and beef producers to enhance monitoring and evaluating cowherd breeding season success. Veterinarians know that being able to visualize the percentage of a cowherd that becomes pregnant each 21-days of the breeding season can provide important information to identify the contributing causes for situations when a lower than desired percentage of the herd becomes pregnant, or to identify areas for improved reproductive efficiency. Until now, collecting and evaluating that information while at the chute during preg-checking has been difficult. Data entry for the BCI Pregnancy Analytics App is even easier than using a paper-and-pen method and has the benefit of data analysis that is as powerful as a chute-side computer.

Pregnancy distribution goal for a 63-day breeding season.

Pregnancy distribution goal for a 63-day breeding season.

Beef cow reproduction is limited by two key factors, the first being a relatively long period of infertility following calving and the second being that only 60% to 70% of successful matings between a fertile bull and fertile cow will result in a viable pregnancy at the time pregnancy status is determined a mid-pregnancy. We know that approximately 30% to 40% of fertile matings result in either failure of fertilization or death of the early embryo, but in most situations, the cow will express heat and ovulate a fertile egg about 21 days after her last heat and have another 60 to 70% probability of conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy. Fertile cows that have three opportunities to be bred by a fertile bull in a breeding season (each with a 65% probability of a successful pregnancy) will have a 96% probability of being pregnant at the time of a preg-check about one-half way through pregnancy.

If nearly all the cows in a herd calved early enough so that they have resumed fertile cycles by the start of the next breeding season, and the bulls are fertile and able to successfully mate, then the ideal pregnancy pattern would have about 60% to 65% pregnant in the first 21 days of the breeding season, 85% to 90% pregnant by the 42nd day of breeding, and about 95% pregnant after 63 days of breeding.

Typical pregnancy pattern for a herd with 50% of cows cycling by the end of the first 21 days of the breeding season.

Typical pregnancy pattern for a herd with 50% of cows cycling by the end of the first 21 days of the breeding season.

Herds that only have 50% of cows cycling by the end of the first 21-days of the breeding season are expected to have no more than 30 to 35% of the herd become pregnant in the first 21 days (60 to 70% pregnancy success from the mating of fertile cows to fertile bulls) and the pattern will be flatter and longer than the ideal pregnancy pattern. The magnitude of non-pregnant cows at the end of the breeding season will depend on the length of the breeding season. Even if the breeding season is limited to 63 days, at least 80% of the cows are expected to be pregnant if the problem is confined to issues of cows resuming fertile estrous cycling during the breeding season. A magnitude of non-pregnant cows that exceeds 20% of the herd is not likely due to cow-problems alone and either bull problems or a combination of cow-problems and bull-problems should be investigated.

Poor pregnancy success due to bull problems can often be detected at the time of preg-check by using the pattern to identify a substantial decrease in the pregnancy success by 21-day periods. Because previously fertile cows rarely become infertile over a short period of time, but bulls can suddenly become less fertile due to testicular, penis, or leg problems, any time that reproductive efficiency suddenly decreases during a breeding season, bull problems should be considered likely.

Pregnancy pattern of a herd that has good cow and bull fertility at the start of the breeding season but a sudden onset of bull infertility occurs toward the end of the first 21 days of the breeding season (such as injury, disease, etc.) that is then followed by a period of partial recovery.

Pregnancy pattern of a herd that has good cow and bull fertility at the start of the breeding season but a sudden onset of bull infertility occurs toward the end of the first 21 days of the breeding season (such as injury, disease, etc.) that is then followed by a period of partial recovery.

The only data required by the Pregnancy Analytics App is the dates for the start and end of the breeding season and an estimate of the fetal age for each cow’s pregnancy. Additional information such as cow id, cow age, body condition score, and breed (or other descriptor) can be added to enhance the value of the preg-check information.

The veterinarian and producer can decide whether to share the cow data with BCI or not. No herd identifiers are available to BCI – so even if you share the data we can’t identify any person with the herd. If you agree to share the data, BCI will have access to the cow information (% pregnant, % with each BCS, starting date for breeding season, etc.), but not the producer or veterinarian information. By submitting the data, the herd’s data is compared to a benchmark created from all the submitted herds or a benchmark of the herds submitted by that veterinarian/clinic. If you choose not to submit the data to BCI, the app works the same, but there is no benchmark for comparison.

After preg-check data is entered, projected calving dates are generated and graphs are created to display the distribution of the upcoming calving season. These pregnancy patterns can help identify the most likely contributing factors when investigating herds with lower than desired percent pregnant.

PhonesThe BCI Pregnancy Analytics App can serve as a valuable tool to assist veterinarians and producers improve reproductive efficiency of beef herds. By the start of 2017, the Pregnancy Analytics App has been downloaded nearly 800 times and over 250 herds with nearly 7,000 cows have already been entered and permission given to be uploaded into the BCI database. The BCI Benchmark is calculated to illustrate the level of reproductive success needed to be in the top one-third of the database. At this time, the Benchmark indicates that to be in the top third of herds, 63% of cows become pregnant during the first 21 days of breeding, 19% become pregnant in the second 21 days, 9% become pregnant during the third 21 days, 3.5% become pregnant in the fourth or greater 21 day periods, and 5.5% of the cows in the herd are open.

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