Why Are Replacement Heifers Important?
Acquiring or raising high quality replacement heifers is an essential and major investment for the cow-calf producer. The replacement heifer becomes the genetic building block for the cow herd. One goal is a replacement heifer will become a fertile cow that produces a calf, annually, for a long time.
Many management steps and decisions must be made in the process of selecting and growing replacement heifers. Consequently, replacement heifers must pass a number of “production tests” to remain in the herd and, hopefully, become a member of the cow herd. Selection at weaning, development from weaning to first breeding, evaluation after first breeding and calving season and establishment of successful rebreeding are the “production tests” a heifer must pass. Heifers not meeting production targets should be culled at any point in the process.
General goals for developing heifers should be to:
- Reach puberty by 12 to 14 months of age.
- Have a high percentage conceiving early in the breeding season.
- Be structurally large enough at calving to minimize calving difficulty.
- Rebreed in a timely manner.
- Raise a good calf to weaning.
Selecting the right heifers, growing them properly and getting them bred early in their first breeding season has a long-term positive impact on cow herd production and profitability.
The question becomes raise or purchase?
Upper Coastal Plain Beef Heifer Development Program
The Upper Coastal Plain Beef Heifer Development Program (UCPHDP) can provide a potential solution to the challenge of raising replacement heifers from both an economical and management standpoint. This program allows producers to bring their replacement heifers to a central location to be developed. Producers will retain ownership of the heifers and pay a daily fee that covers the cost of feed, medicine, reproductive procedures and associated costs and labor. Consignors have the options to breed heifers using artificial insemination (AI) or natural service.
The objectives of the Upper Coastal Plain Heifer Development Program are to:
- Educate beef producers in Alabama on the proper management of replacement heifers
- Increase the implementation of heifer development practices by Alabama producers resulting in optimum reproductive efficiency as mature cows and resulting profitability.
- Demonstrate management techniques for replacement heifers to reach targets weights and breed successfully through a Total Quality Management approach
- Demonstrate estrus synchronization and breeding protocols for heifers in the artificial insemination program.
- To demonstrate methods of evaluating heifers for disposition, performance, and reproductive traits.
- Increased marketing opportunities for and add value to Alabama raised heifers
This program is being provided by Upper Coastal Plain Agricultural Research Center, Auburn University Animal Sciences Department, and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System
|Enrollment: Individuals must complete a heifer consignment form and return to the Upper Coastal Plain office by August 27, 2012. Purebred and commercial heifers will be accepted. Heifers born between August 15, 2011 and December 31, 2011 are eligible to be enrolled for fall calving.
The program offers:
Decreased Time and Land Commitment – no longer will the producer have to have a separate management plan and pastures for heifers.
Pre-breeding Evaluation – Every heifer will receive a reproductive track score, and a pelvic measurement. These results will be giving to the consignors and this will allow cosigners to make more informed management decisions.
Breeding Options - Consignors will be able to choose what breeding method that will best help to improve their management. The HDP offers natural breeding or an artificial insemination option to breeding.
Pregnancy Confirmation - Each heifer will receive a post breeding exam to confirm pregnancy.
Animal Sciences and Forages Regional Extension Agent
P.O. Box 76
Winfield, AL 35594
Superintendent, Upper Coastal Plain Experiment Station
P.O. Box 76
Winfield, AL 35594