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Expert: Cattle Producers Have Many Options to Weigh When Considering Restocking

March 6, 2014
Texas Heifers
Producers have different options to consider when rebuilding their herds such as retaining heifers.  

By: Blair Fannin, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

With the cattle market at all-time highs and drought having decimating herds across Texas, some might consider restocking, but are questioning if it’s the right time to buy.

The answer: It depends, says one expert.

Dr. Stephen Hammack, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service beef cattle specialist in Stephenville, walked through the different metrics of buying replacement cattle at the recent Blackland Income Growth Conference in Waco.

"They’re closer to 1,300 pounds and we are feeding practically everything we produce that is not retained for heifers. We’ve got better genetics to produce more pounds; we also have growth promotants and better nutrition."

Hammack said if you are thinking about restocking, "there are different alternatives and factors involved."

Those include:

  • Cattle availability
  • Initial investment
  • Development phase
  • Rebreeding potential
  • Potential longevity
  • Calving difficulty/death loss

First, Hammack recommended producers visit for background information and resources to help with decision-making. Next, Hammack discussed the different options producers have when considering rebuilding their herds such as retaining heifers, purchasing heifers, buying cow-calf pairs, or three-in-ones (a single cow that is bred and has a calf by its side).

For retained heifers, Hammack said the obvious challenge is not having a calf for two years and the animal’s nutritional needs. The "pluses" are availability, marketing flexibility, genetic potential and longevity.

For purchased heifers less than 700 pounds, the pluses are availability, marketing flexibility and initial investment. The minuses include the development phase, rebreeding potential, dystocia/death loss, above-average nutritional needs and high cull rate.

For purchased heifers greater than 700 pounds, bred heifers and first calf pairs, Hammack said the pluses are longevity, while the minuses include initial investment, rebreeding potential, nutritional needs and cull rate.

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