It is important to properly develop heifers before the breeding season and to continue managing them during and after the calving season.
A replacement heifer represents the most costly improvement in a herd’s genetics. Some of the more important influencers that are critical to retaining these genetics over time include development, conceiving early in the breeding season, calving ease and maintaining good body condition prior to breeding, especially between 2 and 5 years of age when the heifer is still growing. For this article, I want to focus on development and conceiving early in the breeding season.
Replacement heifers are the hot topic at most rancher gatherings these days. Where to find quality, dependable and reasonably priced females is always a concern. All too often, producers are still selecting and developing their replacement females the same way dad and granddad did 75 to 100 years ago. This method can still work if you are not too concerned about the profitability of your cattle operation, but we have better, more reliable and profitable methods available for selecting and developing females for the cattle business today. Proper selection will affect ranch profitability for the next 10 to 12 years, the productive life of that heifer. Treat replacement heifers as a valued employee in your ranching business, and she will be a more profitable member of your ranch team in the future. Consider selecting and training a heifer like you would an employee.
About the end of every year, beef producers have sold the last calf crop and have a few weeks or months of relative calm before calving season starts. It is easy to become complacent about the cow herd and the replacement heifers, but if you don’t take care of them now, they will not be able to take care of you in the future.
Often times cow-calf producers have a difficult time incorporating replacement heifers into the cow herd with a high degree of success.