Beef Cattle Heifer Management

Optimum production, both current and future, in a beef breeding herd depends largely on the quality and reproductive performance of its replacement heifers. Superior reproductive performance can be obtained through proper selection and management of replacement heifers.

Reducing calving difficulty and increasing calf crop percentage requires careful and prudent management of these young females. Heifer management includes several steps, which require setting priorities to achieve management goals. Proper steps to ensure good heifer performance includes health management, heifer selection, management from weaning to first breeding, management from breeding to calving, and management from calving through rebreeding.

Since 10 to 20 percent of the cow herd is typically replaced by heifers each year, heifer selection and development decisions significantly affect an operation’s productivity and profitability. This productivity and profitability is largely dependent upon reproductive performance as research has shown that heifers calving early in their first calving season continued to calve early and wean heavier calves throughout their lifetime than later calving heifers (Lesmeister et al., 1973). In other words, the most productive cows over a lifetime, as measured by actual calf weaning weights, are those that conceive early when bred as yearlings.

The replacement heifer is a mixed blessing for most cow-calf operators. On the one hand, she represents the future profitability and genetic improvement of the cow herd. On the other hand, the replacement heifer is an inconvenience, at best. Her smaller size and higher nutritional requirements dictate that she be raised and managed separately from the rest of the herd. The fact that she is essentially non-productive for the first 2 years of life makes her easy prey for mismanagement. However, the growth and development of the replacement female from birth until she weans her first calf is of critical importance, in order for her to become a highly productive part of the cow herd. Thus, her selection and development is very important to the continued success of your beef cattle operation.

Heifers Buy Raise

 

 

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