Adding Value to Beef Heifers

October - December 2002

Dennis L. DeWitt , livestock field specialist


The beef cow-calf producer needs an efficient way to develop and breed the beef replacement heifer, while at the same time improving the genetics of the calf that the heifer produces.


The Northwest Iowa Beef Heifer Development Board has approved the 6th Northwest Iowa Replacement Beef Heifer Development Program. In the first five years, there have been 1,221 head of beef heifers developed.


Being involved in the Northwest Iowa Beef Heifer Development Program has benefited producers by: Freeing up feed, water, lots, and shelter needed to develop replacements on their farm. Reducing the number of groups of cattle producers must manage separately during the winter. Placing steers and heifers not kept for breeding on higher energy rations, which give faster, cheaper gains without impairing the future heifers' usefulness. Gives producers access to superior bulls and eliminates the need for owning "heifer bulls". Increased the value of the breeding stock produced. Producers also discover the real cost of replacement heifer development. Improved heifer temperament was another benefit. These heifers are qualified for the Iowa Bred Heifer Certification Program, also. The total cost per day has been between $1.30 and $1.47. Semen services have been between 1.3 and 1.5 per heifer. Greater than 60% of the heifers are inseminated only once. The pregnancy rate has been between 83 and 96 percent. Little to no calving problems are reported by the producers at parturition.


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