The goal of breeding heifer management is to produce a healthy, productive animal that produces a calf annually as part of the herd. This technical note will focus on managing heifers to achieve a target age at first calving of two years and cover the areas of nutrition and target growth rates, selection of replacement heifers, the importance of bull selection and breeding management.
- Careful management of replacement beef heifers is required for their successful entry into the breeding herd, especially when targeting calving at two years of age.
- Nutritional management is crucial for heifers to achieve the growth target of at least 60% of mature body weight at service, as well as still meeting their growth requirements and pregnancy needs over their first calving period.
- Fertility management for heifers should involve a six-week mating period, one month before the main herd is mated, allowing heifers longer to recover and start cycling post-calving.
- Bull selection is critical and targeted use of bulls with estimated breeding values (EBVs) for easy calving and low birth weight will reduce the risk of dystocia.
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