Resolve to improve cow herd productivity

Farm Forum

At this time of year, thoughts turn to New Year resolutions. Many cattlemen may be focusing on how they can increase cow herd productivity and profitability. With that goal in mind, the American Angus Association encourages breeders to consider enrolling cows in the MaternalPlus program.

“Efficiency is critical in today’s cattle business,” says Association Chief Operating Officer Bill Bowman. “The MaternalPlus program is an additional tool producers can use to evaluate their animals and make the best management decisions possible.”

Launched in early 2012, MaternalPlus is a voluntary, inventory-based reporting system designed to capture additional reproductive trait data, and ultimately, expand the No. 1 profit driver in the cattle industry – reproductive and lifetime productivity. Already, nearly 170 breeders have participated in the MaternalPlus program.

“We have solid information on carcass traits, growth trends and other profit determinants,” Bowman says. “MaternalPlus allows us to analyze data that has otherwise gone undocumented, and can make a huge impact to an operation’s bottom line.”

And there is no better time than the New Year to sign up for MaternalPlus. Producers can enroll at any time, but for spring-calving programs the best time is prior to the beginning of calving season.

With enrollment, producers will receive additional information at weaning processing including calving ease, birth weight and weaning weight expected progeny differences (EPDs) for calves out of inventoried cows.

MaternalPlus allows producers to:

· capture cow herd and reproductive performance data;

· gain faster access to preweaning EPDs as a selection tool;

· characterize females through heifer pregnancy EPDs tied directly to herd genetics;

· expand new trait development for Angus reproductive and longevity measures; and

· streamline their ability to track heifer and cow reproductive records through AAA Login.

In addition, MaternalPlus lays the groundwork for selection tools related to cow longevity in the herd. For each cow, if a calf is not reported, a disposal code needs to be designated. Gathering these records will allow the Association, and individual cattlemen, the opportunity to study female trait improvements similar to what the Angus breed has witnessed in other economically relevant traits.

Get started with MaternalPlus by visiting the website or accessing AAA Login. To learn more about signing up, reference this Angus Journal article written by Association Director of Genetic Research Sally Northcutt.