Let Your Environment Help You Choose Your Replacement Heifers

Last week we ran Kit Pharo's article about why ear tagging newborn calves isn't necessary. One reader wondered how this affects choosing replacement heifers. Here's Kit's response. Question: “Hi Kit, I was wondering how you select replacement heifers from your herd – or do you have some suggestions on how I should select my heifers?” Answer: Enough articles have been written about the proper way to select and develop replacement heifers to fill a large barn. Guess what? It’s not really that complicated. I don’t know why everyone is so determined to complicate simple matters, but they are. Weaned heifer calves that have been saved for replacement females will not generate any income for two years. Therefore, ranchers simply cannot afford to invest much money into their development. Rather than place them in a high-input, artificial environment and haul expensive feed to them, we need to treat them like the cows we hope they will become. They need to be out foraging for themselves, with minimum inputs. If a heifer can’t do this, she probably won’t make an efficient and profitable momma cow. We suggest you retain nearly all of your heifer calves, rough them through the winter and expose them to a bull for a very short period of time. This system will allow only your most efficient and early maturing heifers to advance into the cowherd. Why not let the environment sort out your best replacement heifers?   The remaining heifers can be treated as stock

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