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Black baldy heifer standing in a pasture.

The Sand Mountain Elite Heifer Development Program is a forage-based development program for yearling heifers consigned by cattle producers in Alabama. The heifers are nominated in November and arrive at the Sand Mountain Research and Extension Center in January. There, the heifers are

  • placed on cool-season annuals
  • weighed every 28 days
  • given a pre-breeding exam, including reproductive tract scoring and pelvis measurements
  • artificially inseminated in April
  • scanned for carcass merit using ultrasound
  • picked up at the end of June

Selecting and developing beef heifers to replace underperforming cows or increase herd numbers impacts the economics of a cow-calf operation through genetics and longevity.

2024 Program

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the 2024 Sand Mountain Elite Heifer Development Program has been canceled. This web page will be updated as new information is known.

Past Rules and Regulations

The following rules and regulations were established for the 2023 Sand Mountain Elite Heifer Development Program. These rules and regulations are subject to change for future program years.

Nominations are made by filling out the application by Nov. 30 and sending to:

Sand Mountain Elite Heifer Development

Attn: Kent Stanford

13112 Alabama Highway 68

Crossville, AL 35962

Heifers must meet the following eligibility requirements.

  • Birth month/year required, with actual birthdate preferred. (Must be born prior to February 15, 2022)
  • Sire and dam (breed composition) of heifers should be known, with registration number(s) of sires provided. Sire groups are preferred but not required.
  • Heifers should weigh a minimum of 525 pounds at delivery.
  • Heifers must be structurally sound and of excellent quality.
  • Heifers must have a calm disposition.
  • Preference will be given to consignors from Alabama.
  • It is expected that consignors will nominate only the “elite” heifers from their herd. All heifers will be screened prior to delivery date. Any heifer that does not meet the above standards and visual appraisal will not be selected. The final decision on entry is based solely on the opinion of the selection committee.


The following preconditioning should occur before delivery day:

  • dehorned and healed
  • dewormed
  • weaned a minimum of 45 days
  • vaccinated and boostered for:
    • 7-Way Blackleg
    • 5-Way Lepto
    • Vibriosis (Campylobacter fetus)

After arrival to the Sand Mountain Research and Extension Center, heifers will be tested for Persistently Infected – BVD. Any heifers testing positive will be removed from the program.


Heifers will be developed primarily on cool season forages. Supplementation with a commodity feed blend will be provided as needed to maintain 1.5 lb/day gain.


Daily care and management will be provided by Sand Mountain Research and Extension Center staff and Extension personnel. Consignors whose heifers need veterinary care and/or treatment beyond what is provided to all animals will be billed those extra costs.

Heifer Development Program Fee: $400

  • This fee includes feeding, breeding, routine health, carcass ultrasound, and pregnancy diagnosis.
  • A $200/head deposit toward total cost will be due upon delivery. The balance will be due at heifer pick-up in June.
  • Consignors electing to remove heifers before program end date will owe the full program fee.
  • Delivery date is tentatively set for January 5, 2023 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Any heifer excused by the program coordinators prior to completion of the project will be charged a pro-rated amount.


The Sand Mountain Research and Extension Center personnel will make every effort to safeguard the health and welfare of the animals and shall obtain veterinary services when necessary, but will not be responsible for loss of heifers in any way. It is recommended that liability insurance be secured by all consignors individually to protect their animals. Consignors agree to hold harmless Auburn University and its employees.

Evaluation and Breeding

All heifers will be evaluated for pelvic area, frame score, reproductive tract score, disposition score, and structure. Weights will be taken at 28-day intervals to ensure acceptable gain is achieved. Heifers must be at least 14 months of age at time of breeding (April). All heifers will go through a pre-selected estrous synchronization program and bred A.I. once, followed by a calving-ease clean-up bull for 45 days. Heifers will be ready for pick-up by mid- June.


This program is designed to develop replacement heifers in a forage-based system, utilizing proper animal husbandry and current technologies. Consignors will receive a heifer in June 2023 that has been provided the best care and management possible. Consignors agree that heifers in this program may be used in Extension programs for demonstration purposes only. A follow-up meeting will be held to summarize the results to all interested cattle producers.

More Information

All other points not specifically addressed in this outline will be handled by the program committee in consultation with the consignor. For additional information, contact Landon Marks (256-706-0032) or Kent Stanford (256-557-1206).


The deadline to nominate has passed