The selection of replacement heifers is important to the beef herd as a whole but can be a costly factor. Use the following tips to make the right selections to improve your herd.
The first step is to define the heifer’s purpose in the herd. The heifer should get pregnant at 12-15 months of age and wean a calf, and they must rebreed and continue to produce a calf each year. The heifer should also be a source of genetic improvement to the collective herd by introducing traits such as fertility, progeny growth and progeny market value.
Select heifers at weaning that are bigger. These heifers are typically born earlier in the breeding season and grow faster before weaning. The faster growth may be an indication of the dam’s higher milk production and better genetics for growth, which may be passed on to the next generation.
Use genetic prediction tools such as EPDs to define the traits that best match the environment for the heifers. Identify heifers that have enough condition to be healthy, but aren’t overfat or very thin, regardless of weight. And, use docility as a factor cattleof selection.
4Have a vision
Every farmer has a vision of his or her ideal beef cow. Keeping heifers of ideal phenotype over time will result in a greater likelihood of similar phenotypes in future generations.
At the end of the day, you want cows that thrive in the environment you have provided for them and continue to produce strong quality offspring that make your operation sustainable.
Sources: Replacement Heifer Selection, Beef Column, Dr. John Comerford, Penn State Extension; 8 strategies for selecting replacement heifers, Beef Magazine.
(Farm and Dairy is featuring a series of “101” columns throughout the year to help young and beginning farmers master farm living. From finances to management to machinery repair and animal care, farmers do it all.)
More Farming 101 columns:
- Stay safe working with electricity on the farm
- How to create a job safety analysis
- Tips for a successful lambing season
- Do you have a vision for your farm?
- Cattle handling for beginners
- Should I buy a new or used tractor?
- How to inspect a used tractor before purchase
- How to buy the right tractor for your farm
- 5 tips for a better farm marketing plan
- How to seek help with retirement planning
- How to set goals for retirement
- A farmer’s guide to saving for retirement
- A farmer’s guide to planning for retirement
- 5 steps to get NRCS assistance
- How can conservation easements help you?
- How to fund conservation plans
- What is a conservation plan?
- How can NRCS help you?
- More airborne hazards on the farm
- 5 airborne hazards to beware of on the farm
- 5 things to know about Wagyu beef
- Pennsylvania utility vehicle laws
- Ohio utility vehicle laws
- Farm chemical safety checklist
- When should a farm become a business entity?
- Harvest prep: Check your yield monitors
- How to tag livestock properly
- 6 tips for decision making on a family farm
- 8 tips to prepare your farm for agritourism
- How to plan for farm emergencies
- 7 keys to success on the farm
- 7 tips for healthy fair animals
- 5 tips to ensure livestock health before the fair
- 6 tips to keep your livestock parasite free
- 6 tips for vaccinating your livestock
- 5 tips to prevent dairy cow foot problems
- 6 common foot problems found in dairy cows
- Recognize, prevent heat stress in dairy cattle
- How to monitor your dairy herd
- How to start your own dairy farm
- 5 tips for sun safety in the field
- Employing youth for the summer
- What to do if a hay fire occurs
- How to prevent hay fires
- How to extend the life of your fence
- 10 safety tips for installing electric fences
- How to chose the right fence for your farm
- How to create a fencing plan
- 7 steps for easy sprayer calibration
- Prepare for planting season, Part 2: Calibration
- Prepare for planting season, Part 1: The Basics
- 7 tips to improve security on your farm
- 5 tips to protect your farmland
- 3 measures to deal with severe farm debt
- How to buy time to catch up on farm debt
- 6 tips to manage income on the farm
- 5 tips to recognize and deal with farm stress
- How to prepare a livestock birthing kit
- 5 tips for marketing your farm
- How to develop farm mission, vision statements
- 5 tips for setting farm goals
- 2 types of livestock insurance policies
- 6 things you need to know about WFRP plans
- 3 basics of crop insurance
- How does liability insurance work on the farm?
- Why do I need farm insurance?
- How to understand and use Ohio’s CAUV
- How to utilize the Pa. Clean and Green Act
- 9 tips for filing farm taxes
- 8 reasons record keeping for taxes is essential
- 5 tips for post-harvest storage
- 7 tips for family meetings on the farm
- 4 tips for balancing your farm and family
- 4 tips for communicating on the family farm
- 4 tips for firing an employee
- 6 tips for keeping good farm help
- 4 tips for recruiting farm labor
- 5 general farm labor laws
- 4 tips for employing minors
- 4 tips for PTO safety
- 5 things young farmers should know about finances
- The farm balance sheet
- 5 items for your farm’s cash flow statement
- Personal and business records: Keep them separate
- What to include in your farm business plan
- How to approach a lender: Tips for getting a farm loan
- How to use microloans to get your farm started
- Saving for the future: 6 tips for young farmers
- How to create a farm safety kit
- 5 tips for child safety on the farm
- 4 tips for transporting livestock
- 5 ways to better understand tractor stability
- 6 farm equipment hacks
STAY INFORMED. SIGN UP!
Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!