The longevity of cows is determined by the terminal age at which she can no longer contribute meaningfully to a breeding herd.
In the past, farmers took only the age of the animal into account when deciding whether or not to cull her from a breeding herd.
“If a cow reached an advanced age, she was simply removed from the herd. Fortunately,
this is no longer the case,” says Anette Theunissen, a senior researcher in animal science at the Vaalharts Research Station in Jan Kempdorp, Northern Cape.
Today, a cow’s age is of less importance. Fertility, and value to the herd, are judged on the animal’s ability to successfully deliver and raise a calf annually regardless of her age.
According to Theunissen, common sense dictates that a productive cow that stays in the herd for longer adds far more value to the sustainability of the herd. The more productive cow decreases the need for replacement heifers, as the farmer will have to replace a smaller percentage of cows every year to maintain the herd size.
What effect does climate change have on the longevity of beef cattle and how can cow longevity be increased? Read more on Farmer’s Weekly