‘Feeding plus breeding’ formula vital for fertility gains

Beef Central, 19/02/2018

FINDING the right genetics to fast track the reproductive efficiency of a herd is only one component of feeding for fertility. Success, according to a facilitator delivering of Meat & Livestock Australia’s new Bred Well Fed Well beef program, also hinges on nutrition and condition management.

Chris Mirams

Chris Mirams, an agricultural consultant and former MLA director, said producers who understand the condition score and energy requirements of cattle at different stages in their production cycle are better positioned to achieve high conception rates, a concentrated calving pattern, an even drop of calves and a high heifer retention rate – all leading to a resilient young herd.

“Herd performance is impacted by genes plus nutrition, so selecting the right genetics is wonderful, but it doesn’t end there,” he said.

“Managing cow and heifer condition score and nutrition is critical, as they drive the onset of oestrus. The earlier the oestrus, the more likely we will achieve our goal of maintaining a 365-day calving interval.”

The new Bred Well Fed Well beef program gives producers practical tools to understand their breeding herd’s energy requirements and to better turn pasture into product.

The one-day workshops take a whole-of-enterprise approach to the complex and interlinking system of selecting, breeding, feeding and managing a profitable herd.

The ‘fed well’ component takes producers through steps to refine heifer/cow nutrition to ensure they’re getting the most out of their cattle.

For more information on the ‘bred well’ part of the workshop, read selecting heifers to retain and establishing breeding objectives).

Bred Well Fed Well guides producers through growing the right quality and quantity of grass, and matching animals’ different physiological needs to available feed supply.

Two important points to note for breeder nutrition requirements:

  • A dry cow’s energy requirements are 11 megajoules/100kg live weight (6pc protein in feed source). This increases during pregnancy and lactation.
  • Energy and protein requirement roughly doubles during lactation, which is the peak of nutritional demand.

Producers attending one of the workshops will also learn more about tools to specifically manage heifers’ nutrition to achieve early calving.

A heifer’s critical mating weight was approximately 60pc of her mature body weight for Bos Taurus breeds, Mr Mirams said.

For example, a heifer should be 360kg at joining if anticipated to grow into a 600kg mature cow.

Failing to proactively manage the growth trajectory of heifers and meeting their nutritional requirements can result in lower conception rates, inadequate pelvic size, dystocia, slow return to oestrus post calving, and a spread-out calving.


The workshops also cover:

  • using condition scoring to ensure breeders are in the right condition and cycling at critical times, such as joining and weaning
  • identifying optimal joining time so peak lactation occurs when pasture is of adequate quality and quantity.

“Calving at the right condition score and calving onto high quality pastures has a huge effect on the time it takes a cow to cycle again,” Mr Mirams said.

The one-day Bred Well Fed Well workshops include hands-on practical activities, such as assessing bulls, developing a breeding objective and condition scoring. There is a participation fee of $75 per person, with a minimum of 15 people required.

  • To find out more or register your interest in attending or hosting a workshop, contact Serina Hancock 0403 570 823,




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