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Raising Your Own Replacements? Maybe You Shouldn’t

By   /  September 18, 2017  /  2 Comments

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We get a cross-section of livestock producers at the Ranching For Profit School. A session can inclu
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About the author

Dave Pratt is one of the most sought after speakers and respected authorities on sustainable ranching in North America. He’s earned a reputation for innovative teaching with a practical edge and has helped hundreds of farmers and ranchers develop and implement strategies to improve their land, strengthen their relationships and increase profit. His programs, which include the Ranching For Profit School and Executive Link, have benefited thousands of families and millions of acres. Dave’s new book, Healthy Land Happy Families and Profitable Businesses has received high acclaim from industry leaders. Joel Salatin said, “This book delivers more meaningful advice in one small space than I’ve ever seen.” Wayne Fahsholtz, former President and CEO of Padlock Ranch advised, “If you are serious about wanting your ranch to be successful / sustainable, than this is an important read.” Stan Parsons called it, “…the best book ever written about ranching anywhere.”


  1. Doug says:

    Same here Brian…we couldn’t find anything local which was appealing when we had the funds for purchase. Don’t know if the route we chose is the best. We bought several breeds of cattle all from different ranch origins but all were “preferred grass efficient genetics”. An efficient cow will have the same phenotype regardless of breed…you know what you want when you see one. We run them together and let preg check sort out the winners and losers in our environment, ecosystem and management. Not many local folks following the same grazing management nor have the same diverse forage base….so there is no ‘buy what you need, open the gate, and enjoy peaches and cream’!

    Placing total emphasis on weight….like any other single trait…is apt to reveal some unintended consequences of selection in the phenotype. Should we not also consider frame size? Weight gain within frame size? Should cow efficiency on standing grass not be the main metric? At what weight within frame do we start discounting gut capacity which is important on low quality forage?

    Commercial bred heifers mentioned above ran around $1800 back in March…a premium over local market. Not freely advertised so one should ask some high caliber folks about those type of cattle to find them.

    If we have efficient cows that wean 55% of their weight on standing grass at 10 months, the heifer from the 1000 lb cow weighs 550 lbs and needs to gain 100 lbs over the next 150 days to reach the magic 65% of mom’s weight (0.65 lb/d….1300 lb cow, 715 lb heifer 10 months old, and 845 lb at 15 months (same 0.65 lb/d). If she breeds fine…if not you’ll have a grass finisher to eat or market. Those gains are achievable on nothing but grass under reasonable grazing management. Both cow sizes fall in the 3-5 frame range. Where we get into trouble is saving heifers from dams weaning 30-40% of their mom’s weight…those will cost more $$ to develop. But the efficient heifers will keep costs under the $1800 mark easily!

    As a large HMI ranch manager told me one day. I’ve seen some good old big cows and some sorry little cows over the years….but I like your cow size!

  2. Brian Nichols says:

    I completely agree that it would be cheaper to buy replacements. The problem we have in SW MO is that the only way to buy good young replacement cows are through dispersals. I’m curious what source other people have for buying replacements.

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