There are many sources of good cattle, both registered (stud) and commercial. It is best to purchase from a successful and reputable breeder who sells only sound cattle as breeding stock; this person will be happy to give you advice.
As your enterprise depends on the fitness of the breeding cattle, you should maintain good herd health by not allowing the animals to become too fat or too thin. Bulls that are not in top condition may perform poorly during the breeding season.
Cows that are overweight or underweight will not produce enough milk and may have calving problems. (We’ll discuss body score conditioning in beef cattle at a later stage.)
A controlled breeding season gives better results than allowing the bull to run with the cows all the time. A breeding season of one to two months is usually recommended. This short calving season produces a uniform set of calves to sell at market time. Calves of similar breeding and size tend to bring in more money.
Choosing a good bull
A quality bull is essential for maintaining a good, healthy herd. A ratio of one bull to 25 cows is generally recommended, although this will depend on the bull’s age and health and the amount of forage available.
This aspect of beef cattle farming requires skill and experience. Contact your vet or extension officer for advice.
Performance recording: a must for herd health
Keep reliable records at all times. This will enable you to cull poor performers and maintain good herd health and vigour. Such records should include birth date and weight, weaning weight and average daily gain.