As calving season ends, and while it’s fresh on your mind, think about your first-calf heifers. Did you see a lot of calving problems, or was it pretty easy going? Did you have problems with heifers getting bred or losing calves early or late in gestation?
As you look back on it, now is the time to think about the upcoming breeding season and what you would like to do differently. That may include evaluating first-calf heifers and making decisions on which ones to cull or keep as replacements. Or maybe you prefer to only buy replacements.
Texas AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist Jason Cleere cautions cow–calf producers to choose wisely when they select replacement females. A heifer’s genetics can affect herd profitability for eight to 14 years. If you don’t feel you have the genetics to back up a strong cowherd, consider purchasing replacements.
The right choice for your herd. "Many pieces of paper have been scribbled on by producers trying to find the right answer," Cleere says. "The problem is that no one answer is right for all producers. Each producer operates under conditions unique to his or her situation."
Whether you choose to raise your own replacements or buy them, Cleere says, some factors to consider include: current and future market prices; herd size; pastures, facilities and management level; available labor; economics; herd health concerns; cow genetic base (crossbreeding system); herd quality; and research of replacement alternatives.
To clarify which strategy is best for a specific operation, Cleere suggests, producers should develop an individualized budget and management plan for each option.
For details on how to do that, and to find more information from Cleere to help decide whether to buy or raise your own replacements, go to the "Cattlemen’s Notebook" section at www.BeefToday.com. Or drop me an e-mail and I will forward it to you.
Please share with us your plans for purchasing or buying replacements. In addition, I’m wondering if the high beef and calf prices on the horizon are giving some of you the itch to expand your herd. The industry is overdue for a herd expansion. Of course, that depends on how much rain we see this spring and how much longer input prices will continue to put a squeeze on all ag enterprises. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your plans and thoughts.
You can also share your ideas with other Beef Today readers by posting them on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/BeefToday.
- Early Spring 2011