QUESTION: In your opinion, if a cow is in good health, at what age should you consider eliminating her as breeding stock?
ANSWER: I do not look at age as a primary culling criterion. I focus on an annual performance review to help me make the call.
First, I look at her production -- the quality of the calf she weaned. Then I look at her future potential production. That examines her pregnancy status and also any problems with her eyes, mouth and teeth, feet and legs, udder, body condition and disposition. Problem cows should be culled whether they are 2 or 12 years of age.
In the 1980s, Desert Ranch in Florida collected data on thousands of cows' reproductive performance relative to age. The data noted consistent rebreeding performance through age 8 with a small decline from 8 to 10 years of age.
The most consistent decline was after age 10, and a steeper decline was seen around age 12.
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