Cost Effective Replacement Heifer Development

yearling heifers in pastureThe second largest cost to most cow-calf enterprises after feed is expenses related to cow depreciation and costs associated with keeping and developing replacement heifers. Current record-high harvested feed prices have further magnified these replacement development expenses.

This situation highlights the benefits of research done at UNL by Dr. Rick Funston on replacement heifer development systems that utilize cheaper feed resources in growing heifers to lower target weights, (55% - 60% of maturity) prior to breeding. This research has shown that heifers developed to lower target breeding weights require less feed than traditional development programs while still achieving acceptable pregnancy rates.

Dr. Funston recently delivered a webinar titled "Cost Effective Replacement Development" that highlighted how these systems can be applied.

Numerous studies are available in the Nebraska Beef Reports highlighting the research demonstrating these systems. Impact of Post-Weaning Beef Heifer Development System on Average Daily Gain, Reproduction and Feed Efficiency (PDF 142KB) as well as Effect of Bred Heifer Development on ADG, Reproduction and Feed Efficiency during First Pregnancy (PDF 190KB) are two recent research projects in the Nebraska Beef Report.

January 2013

Aaron Berger, UNL Extension Educator
Panhandle Research and Extension Center
University of Nebraska–Lincoln