Friday, June 2, 2017

BIF 2017: Investing in the future, heifer development for longevity

Justin Rhinehart
University of Tennessee

A step-by-step guide for heifer development:

  • Breed early in the first breeding season
  • Minimize calving difficulties
  • Wean acceptable calves
  • Breed early in the second breeding season
  • Optimize profit
  • Improve genetics

In our nutritional development, we can have steady growth, fast early growth then plateau, slow early growth and fast late growth.

We can develop heifers to a lower target weight and still get good pregnancy weights.

If we have range development vs feedlot development of heifers, we see higher pregnancy rates in the range developed heifers. The range developed heifers also stay in the herd longer.

One month before breeding season, reproductive tract scores heifers and cull heifers that have not reached sexual maturity. Estrus synchronization is also a great tool for jump starting heifers using the progesterone in a CIDR.

With a limited approach to heifer development, using estrus synchronization is very important. It will aid those heifers to be successful.

To have a great cross breeding scenario, it is easiest to buy cross-bred heifers and breed them to a terminal approach. From a systems perspective, this is an optimal approach. We can learn from crop or other livestock production in terms of utilizing hybrid vigor.


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