Using Wheat Pasture
Years of research
and experience with stocker cattle wintered on small grain pasture proves that this is a good choice for a heifer
growing ration. Heifers weaned in October are old enough to make good use of wheat pasture that becomes available
in late November. In those years where good wheat pasture is grown, grazing the heifers on wheat will allow the 1.5
pounds per dry gain throughout the winter growing period. Heifers wintered on good wheat pasture will be ready to
enter the breeding season in April or early May in excellent body condition and at the target weight. Some caution
must be taken to avoid severe weight and condition loss if heifers are wintered on wheat pasture, removed from
wheat on March 15 and then placed on lower quality pasture such as native or bermuda until the breeding season
begins. Setting aside a few acres of small grain pasture for "graze-out" would allow the replacement heifers to
graze high quality pasture well into May. When comparing the price of renting wheat pasture with those programs
listed above, you should note the price per pounds of gain of the least expensive scenario in table 2 is 41 cents.
The most expensive program costs 81 cents per pound of gain. Wheat pasture, if available, will compete well with
Using Ionophores in Replacement Heifer Diets
In an effort to insure
more replacement heifers are bred to calve early in their first calving season, ranchers should consider using a
supplement containing an ionophore in the growing diet of the heifers. "Ionophore" is the generalized name for the
feed additives monensin (Rumensin) and lasalocid (Bovatec). Both are presently approved for use with growing
programs for replacement heifers.
Research conducted in Texas and Wyoming indicated that growing heifers fed 200 mg
monensin per head per day reached puberty at an earlier age than did similar heifers fed similar diets containing
no monensin. Similar data is available for lasalocid.
Most stocker cattle research has indicated that the addition of 100-200 mg of an
ionophore will increase average daily gain by .1 to .2 pound per day. Over a 150 day growing period of a
replacement heifer, this means an additional 15-30 pounds in average weight improvement of the heifers by breeding
Summary of Replacement Development
The most economical growing program for replacement heifers is going to utilize
standing or harvested forages as a major portion of the diet. Heifers may be grown slowly then given higher energy
feed to accelerate the rate of gain to achieve the required 65% of mature size by the start of the breeding
Utilize the highest quality hays and/or the best pastures because young cattle cannot
utilize low quality roughage as well as the mature cows.
Use an ionophore to improve feed utilization and hasten the onset of puberty.
Wheat pasture will make an excellent growing program for fall weaned replacement
OSU Cow/Calf Corner