A Review of Factors That Impact on the Capacity of Beef Cattle Females to Conceive, Maintain a Pregnancy and Wean a calf-Implications for Reproductive Efficiency in Northern Australia

Anim Reprod Sci. 2010 Oct;122(1-2):1-22. doi: 10.1016/j.anireprosci.2010.04.010. Epub 2010 Apr 13.


A review of factors that may impact on the capacity of beef cattle females, grazing semi-extensive to extensive pastures in northern Australia, to conceive, maintain a pregnancy and wean a calf was conducted. Pregnancy and weaning rates have generally been used to measure the reproductive performance of herds. However, this review recognises that reproductive efficiency and the general measures associated with it more effectively describe the economic performance of beef cattle enterprises. More specifically, reproductive efficiency is influenced by (1) pregnancy rate which is influenced by (i) age at puberty; (ii) duration of post-partum anoestrus; (iii) fertilisation failure and (iv) embryo survival; while (2) weight by number of calves per breeding female retained for mating is influenced by (i) cow survival; (ii) foetal survival; and (iii) calf survival; and (3) overall lifetime calf weight weaned per mating. These measures of reproductive efficiency are discussed in depth. Further, a range of infectious and non-infectious factors, namely, environmental, physiological, breed and genetic factors and their impact on these stages of the reproductive cycle are investigated and implications for the northern Australian beef industry are discussed. Finally, conclusions and recommendations to minimise reproductive inefficiencies based on current knowledge are presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry
  • Animals
  • Australia
  • Cattle
  • Female
  • Fertilization / physiology*
  • Infertility, Female / genetics
  • Infertility, Female / physiopathology
  • Infertility, Female / veterinary
  • Male
  • Parity
  • Postpartum Period / physiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Rate
  • Pregnancy, Animal / physiology*
  • Rain
  • Sexual Maturation / physiology*
  • Weaning*