Effects of handling acclimation procedures prior to breeding on reproductive performance, handling reactivity and stress in beef heifers

Neilson Cattle Development (Neilson) approached the Olds College Technology Access Centre for Livestock Production (TACLP) seeking to optimize their management practices and ultimately improve the reproduction efficiency, health and welfare of their herd. TACLP proposed to conduct an applied research project on the effect of acclimation to handling as a form of achieving Neilson’s goals. Acclimation to handling is a low-cost, easy-to-adopt, and scientifically proven approach that has been reported to reduce the stress levels of beef cows at handling while increasing their pregnancy rate. TACLP conducted the study in 2020/2021, with the variables measured being (1) pregnancy rate, (2) salivary cortisol (physiological indicator of acute stress), and (3) reactivity parameters. The results from this study will be presented by Laio Sobrinho (TACLP Research Associate) at AgSmart. Lance and Karyn Neilson (owners of Neilson Cattle Development) will talk about their experience when working with the TACLP, including what were the benefits and challenges found from the research trial that took place at their ranch.