How many Bred Heifers?

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How many Bred Heifers?

Postby Stocker Steve » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:46 pm

There are a number of trade offs in calving out heifers. Ideally, the latest heifer genetics should make them better and more efficient mothers. What limits the number of bred heifers you bring on for your herd? They are certainly more work...
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Re: How many Bred Heifers?

Postby gcreekrch » Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:13 am

I like calving heifers that are bred right. With some trepidation we are calving 180 heifers this spring to a line of bulls we haven't used before. They were very well represented to us so hope all the recommendations were true. I will be well stocked up with lidocaine and catgut just in case.

Would rather calve heifers than a bunch of swingbag, chapped teats, calf kicking old boots any time.

We did have 80 of these heifers for sale private treaty and nobody thought they were worth what we did so here we are.
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Re: How many Bred Heifers?

Postby TCRanch » Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:34 am

Capacity is part of the equation. I don't refer to them as replacement heifers because that implies they're replacing an older cow - and I'm horrible at culling. My heifers are born & raised here; whether or not they're retained is contingent on lineage, attitude, condition, any (potential) health issues (did I ever have to treat her as a calf?) and pelvic measurements. Whether they're more work is self imposed. Mine are bred by a LBW calving ease bull but I still calve them out in the barn because I want to watch them, be ready to assist and make sure they mother-up. I also keep them separate from the main herd to make sure they're receiving adequate nutrition.
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Re: How many Bred Heifers?

Postby True Grit Farms » Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:03 am

We've only lost 1 heifer and a few calves through the years calving heifers out. I have saved a couple of heifers by pulling a dead calf. When were calving we check the heifers before dark and see what surprises we have in the morning.
A decent bred heifer can do a good job all by herself over 90% of the time. Nature doesn't seem like it wants us to get any better than that.
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Re: How many Bred Heifers?

Postby Stocker Steve » Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:18 am

gcreekrch wrote:I like calving heifers that are bred right.


I have had a lot of issues with purchased heifers, even if they come out of fancy breeding programs. They may not fit into our operation, or don't like to cooperate, or both.

I have had consistent success with home raised heifers, to the point I have to have a good reason to cull them. So we are increasing numbers about 5% per year and turning the cow herd faster.
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Re: How many Bred Heifers?

Postby Jeanne - Simme Valley » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:50 am

All my heifers are listed "for sale". Some years I sell a lot, some years a don't. I RARELY buy a heifer. I might be able to count on 1 hand how many I've purchased (in all my years of raising Simmentals). If I buy, I generally buy a cow (bred or nursing or 3-way). We bred 15 last year, had 8 left to calve this year.

I really hate to say this (bad luck!!!), but I can't remember the last heifer we had to assist or had a dead calf (other than maybe a twin). I can say that, because we are finished calving out our heifers for this season!!!
Phil has been here 5 years, and we have had 1 set of twins we needed to call the vet. (Phil's 1st year - city boy/man - now very country). And I asked him the other day if we have had more than 1 "hard calving" since he was here. We could only remember that 1 that we used a rope around the chains used like a come-a-long. We have had maybe 4 since he has been here that he re-positioned the calf.
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Re: How many Bred Heifers?

Postby Chocolate Cow » Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:09 pm

Stocker Steve wrote:
gcreekrch wrote:I like calving heifers that are bred right.


I have had a lot of issues with purchased heifers, even if they come out of fancy breeding programs. They may not fit into our operation, or don't like to cooperate, or both.

I have had consistent success with home raised heifers, to the point I have to have a good reason to cull them. So we are increasing numbers about 5% per year and turning the cow herd faster.


Amen.To the home raised heifers. They are a product of my management and environment. I'm trying to build numbers so I've had to buy. It hasn't been much to brag about.
I don't treat my heifers a lot different than my cows. They calve in the same time frame as the main herd. I do calve them separate from the mature herd and I do summer them away from the mature herd in a separate pasture. That's the only management difference. I find second breeding conception rate is better if they aren't mixed with the older cows. They are bred to a low birth weight bull the first time. After their first calving, birth weight isn't much of a consideration on the sire..within reason.
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Re: How many Bred Heifers?

Postby Brute 23 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:56 pm

X2 on raising your own.

Capacity influences how many I keep a long with the quality. We are always trying to better our herd so even if Im at capacity if I see a couple heifers that are just really nice I cull off the bottom of the herd on the older cows. By doing that I feel you get better cattle when you aren't in a bind and have to keep cattle. Also by bringing a few in every year you keep a steady flow of new going in and old going out.
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Re: How many Bred Heifers?

Postby Ky hills » Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:37 pm

For me, at this time we are building our herd so we are keeping more than usual. Most years will keep back somewhere between 2-5, this year it will likely be 9 or 10. Like others have stated I like keeping back some from our cows. Have had mixed success with buying registered heifers.
That being said we also are part of a commercial heifer development program. I have kept back several heifers over the years from that and they have turned out pretty good. Even though the history isn't known of most of those heifers they have met requirements, have a health/vaccination program, and are bred to calving ease bulls.
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Re: How many Bred Heifers?

Postby Lazy M » Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:58 pm

It seems almost sinful to take a nice heifer to the stockyards. I always have a rank old cow or 2 that needs replaced..
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Re: How many Bred Heifers?

Postby farmerjan » Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:33 pm

We also do good with calving out our own heifers. After having bought heifers a few years, I told my son NO MORE. Granted we did not buy top of the line bred heifers either. But between calving issues and then temperment/attitude issues, I absolutely refuse to buy bred heifers anymore. We do buy some commercial cows and have even bought a few at dispersal sales but those cows and calves are 99% terminal. Once in awhile we will keep a heifer out of one. We calve about 10-20 in the spring and fall. All depending on what we liked and what we kept. We do 2 cullings; once when we wean we look at who/what we like. Then after they are yearlings we reassess and decide who stays to be bred. We have some real nice weaned ones this year. Some years not too many. I also hate to take a nice heifer to the stockyards. Always have a couple of cows with attitudes or some reason to ship.
We use LBW easy calving bulls, and I check heifers twice a day when they are due.
Heifers are raised from weaning separate from the cows, bred and calved out and then rebred. After their second calf, they are integrated into the cow herd because they are cows at that point. Have 99% of their growth, have 2 calvings under their belt, know what to do, and can be bred to any bull on the farm pretty much. They are not fed that much differently, just don't have to compete with older bossy cows when they are getting this motherhood thing down, and trying to eat, and grow, and produce milk, and get bred back.
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Re: How many Bred Heifers?

Postby Midtenn » Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:20 pm

Seems opinions have changed a lot over the last couple years , or maybe those people just haven't responded yet that say its better to buy replacements. I'm in the camp with most of you in raising our own. We've had terrible history with purchased heifers. Right now we are still growing the herd and plan to be doing so for 5 or 6 more years. Our replacements are determined by percentage of heifer births and the dam's and siblings track record. Some years we may keep 5% others we may keep 50% or more. For instance our last spring born calves (19) we kept 8 heifers. Our fall born calves (28) right now it looks like only 5 or 6 are going to make the cut. We have several f2 and f3 that are good cows but not what we want for making replacements. We're shooting for 100% maternal quality and not going to keep something just for the sake of growing the herd.
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Re: How many Bred Heifers?

Postby JCcattle » Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:31 pm

We also like to keep our own heifers. We bought 13 last year and only had one of our own due to the fact we haven’t had enough cows and are trying to grow our herd. But growing up on the farm most of our replacements were home raised and that’s what my husband and I are aiming for. We’ve been spending a little more than average on the ones we’ve bought cuz we want good cows to build our herd with. This getting going isn’t for sissies with the cost of land etc etc!! This year we have 3 yearlings we kept.. had high hopes of keeping 6 but eventually we have to sell some too.
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