Advice on Heifer and Young Cow Management from UF/IFAS Extension

See recommendations from UF Extension on beef cow management.

 

One tough beef cow management issue that beef producers deal with is whether to purchase or raise replacement heifers. On this issue, there are many considerations to take into account, such as the land, resources like time, labor and finances. A South Florida Beef-Forage Program article has recommendations for beef producers concerning this area of cow management. Read a summary of them below.

Cow Management Recommendations

  • “Are you able to grow this animal so that they are at a minimum of 65% of their mature weight at puberty? On average, most cows would be between 650 – 750 pounds at puberty or 14-15 months of age.”
  • “When selecting replacement heifers for your herd, you want to select more than will be needed. Over time you will need to cull some of those out of the herd for one reason or another. If you don’t allow for extras you are limited on your final selection.”
  • “When possible, take the time to review the records of the heifers. You want to find heifers with reproductive efficiency, have a high degree of fertility, are structurally sound and have a frame size between a 5 and 6.”
  • “When raising your own replacements, you should evaluate them on a regular basis to ensure they are meeting your criteria. At weaning you will want to keep replacements with heavy weaning weights.”
  • “If you decide to calve your heifers at 2 years of age you should maintain a cow herd that has a mature weight that is suitable for the resources and environment that are available to them. Preconditioning heifers after weaning will ensure weight gain rather than weight loss.”
  • “Synchronizing heifers can assist in the breeding process. This will allow a tighter calving interval allowing you to know when to watch for heifers having difficulty.”
  • “When managing the young cow you want to keep the animals separate from the mature cow herd. These animals are still growing and need more management than the mature cow herd.”
  • The critical nutritional period for first calf heifers is 80 days after calving. This is when the animal can become nutritionally deficient while producing milk for her calf and also trying to continue to grow and support her own body functions. For this reason, first and second calf heifers should calve in at a body condition score of 5 to 7. Supplementation should be provided so they lose only one body condition score.

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