Adding a replacement heifer to a herd is a necessary step to the breeding industry. Though it may seem like a simple process of flipping through listings, it can actually mean evaluating your cow herd goals as well as some revenue forecasting. If you’re planning on adding a new replacement heifer this season, here’s what you need to consider.
How Do You Know it’s Time?
Production is one of the key driving forces behind the cattle industry. If your cowherd is productive in producing calves, weaning and feed conversion, then you’re on the right track to protecting your ROI. But every breeder must deal with the balancing act between knowing when to keep and when to cull as members of the herd age. Keep on a dam for too long, and it can eat up profits. Vice versa, cull a dam too soon and you may miss out on extra revenue.
The average production span for a dam is 8 years. Typically by the time a cow reaches 10-12 years old, she may not be able to keep her body condition through the winter, have strong teeth to forage and can be prone to develop health conditions.
What to Look for in a Replacement Heifer
When you’re in the market for a replacement heifer, you don’t want to choose at random. In fact, choosing replacement heifers can be a similar process to choosing a herd bull as there are plenty of objectives to keep in mind. Here’s what we recommend to look for:
- Aim for a replacement heifer that has similar genetic markings of the previous dam
- Look for good phenotype and structure. Phenotype problems areis heritable and can be passed down to calves.
- Strive for low-maintenance, meaning they can calve with little assistance and have excellent mothering abilities
- Consider her ancestral lines. Does she come from proven pedigrees? What was the production value of her mother and grandmother?
Once you introduce your new replacement heifer into the herd, gradually introduce her to the herd by letting the cow herd meet her in an open space as compared to a confined space where injury can occur.
Helping You Meet Your Cowherd Goals
As you develop your goals for your cowherd and breeding, you may need some assistance along the way. We offer artificial insemination and embryo transfers from sires and donors that stem from a long lineage of proven pedigrees. We also host an annual production sale if you’re looking to replenish your herd, as well as private treaties.