As we continue in this series of how to use cow-calf health and production data to measure reproductive performance and efficiency, we will explore the importance of calf crop (weaning) percentage as an indicator of overall reproductive performance in a cow-calf herd.
Calf crop percentage is an overall measure of reproductive rate in the herd. Pregnancy percentage, calving percentage, and calf death loss all evaluate the efficiency of different stages in the production of the weaned calf (i.e. breeding, gestation, calving, and birth). For most producers, the weaned calf is the product that is marketed, making calf crop percentage an important measure of financial success.
Calf crop percentage is calculated by dividing the total number of calves weaned by the number of females exposed to a bull during breeding season. It should be noted that this value represents management, health, and nutrition decisions that were made by the cow-calf producer from pre-breeding management through weaning. Errors made during any stage in heifer development, breeding, gestation, calving, or pre-weaned calf management will be reflected in the calf crop percentage. Females that were culled at the time of pregnancy check or after should be included in the total number of females exposed to a bull for purposes of this calculation. Calf crop percent does not reflect financial costs that may have accrued with excessive use of feed, or other excessive inputs. These types of financial losses may not impact the number of calves weaned, but they can increase the cost of production on a per calf basis.
In conclusion, calf crop percentage describes the collective success of multiple steps in the process of producing the weaned calf. Although a good overall measurement of reproductive performance in the beef herd, calf crop percent should be evaluated with other previously discussed metrics of reproductive performance (i.e. pregnancy percent, calving percent, calving distribution, and calf death loss) in order to form a comprehensive understanding of where issues with reproduction are occurring in a cow-calf herd.