There are several tools routinely used when selecting replacement heifers. Many of those being: age, structural soundness, and genetic merit. Another set of tools that are essential for economic sustainability is reproductive tract scoring and pelvic measuring.
Reproductive tract scoring evaluates the maturity of the heifer’s uterus and ovaries. It is a quick and effective palpation done by a skilled veterinarian. Reproductive tracts are scored on a level of 1 to 5. A scoring of 1 being very immature and 5 being mature/cycling.
Culling decisions can be more easily made with the knowledge of mature vs immature reproductive tracts before breeding season. Females with immature tracts will be less likely to breed earlier in the breeding season than those that are fully mature and cycling. Culling the immature tracts not only aids in tightening your breeding and calving window, but decreases your feed bill.
Pelvic measuring is essentially used as a risk management tool. It evaluates the dimensions of the heifer’s pelvis to determine the size of calf that she can deliver without assistance. This is done by a skilled veterinarian using a pelvimeter where the height and width of the pelvis are measured and compared to those of a similar size and age . Culling decisions made on pelvic size aid in a less stressful calving season when combined with proper bull selection.
These tools used hand in hand can lessen emergency calving situations which can be detrimental to the calf and heifer, lessen your overall herd cost for the season and increase herd productivity.
NS DVM -Ellis County Animal Hospital