A simulation exercise to teach principles of bovine reproductive management. Academic Article uri icon


  • Students in Reproductive Management (a senior-level course with approximately 20 to 50 students per semester) at the University of Missouri-Columbia are required to participate in a simulation exercise that is designed to improve reproductive efficiency in a beef herd. During a simulated 5-yr period, students must 1) improve reproductive efficiency in a beef cow-herd through implementation of reproductive management principles; 2) determine the economic impact of reproductive management decisions in a beef herd; and 3) evaluate the constraints of different geographical locations on approaches to reproductive management. Groups of three to four students are provided with the reproductive and economic records of a farm/ranch located in different parts of North America. Students create reproductive management plans consisting of 1) detailed discussion of farm/ranch environment (climate, terrain, forage and grain availability, and stocking rate; season for breeding and calving; and justification for choice of breed); 2) assessment of current level of reproductive performance; 3) identification and economic justification of specific (measurable) objectives; 4) discussion of alternatives for accomplishing specific objectives; 5) prediction of reproductive performance (pregnancy rate, quantity of calf weaned per cow exposed, and cost per quantity of calf weaned) in response to implementation of specific management practices; and 6) an annual and 5-yr reproductive and economic summary. Students obtain livestock marketing information for their assigned location via the Internet. Spreadsheets were developed to calculate the reproductive efficiency of postpartum cows and replacement heifers based on management decisions made by the groups and to calculate a yearly economic summary for each of the 5 yr. Management decisions are justified in a written report, and oral presentations are given to the class when the project is completed. Greater than 85% of students indicated that the exercise increased their understanding of how management decisions affect reproductive efficiency and profitability in a beef operation and also provided added confidence for students that applied for beef management positions.

published proceedings

  • J Anim Sci

author list (cited authors)

  • Perry, G. A., & Smith, M. F.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Perry, GA||Smith, MF

publication date

  • May 2004