Beef heifer efficiency: Data-driven decisions for your herd

Beef Heifers

Beef producers look at their developing heifers and wonder which one will make them the most profit over her life.

With tightening margins the past few years, producers must look to data-driven decisions for their breeding stock, says Reagan Bluel, interim superintendent of the University of Missouri Southwest Research Center in Lawrence County.

Bluel says Southwest Research Center is eager to serve Missouri’s beef cattle producers to provide the data to determine which heifers in their herds will efficiently use the feed provided.

Bluel invites progressive beef producers to enroll their fall-born replacement heifers between eight and 10 months old in the “Heifer Intake Test” this June. The test uses the on-site GrowSafe feed system.

“Imagine your herd of cows producing a growthy calf – every year,” she says. “Now imagine being able to find the ones in your herd successfully completing that while eating less forage. It’s a game-changer for your cow herd. Determining the efficiency of your replacement will reap cost savings in maintenance feeding throughout her entire life.”

The GrowSafe system captures daily feed intake for each animal in the pen throughout the test. Scheduled test weights determine the heifer’s growth over a 42-day period. Breed associations will pair the scheduled test weights with weaning and yearling weights to determine the trajectory of gain for the replacement heifer.

“The University of Missouri has been a leader in beef feed intake research,” says Jared Decker, Wurdack Chair in animal genomics at MU. “It is great to see producers using this research to make a more informed selection and mating decisions.”

Southwest Research Center will contract to test 2020 fall-born heifers, bunk broke, and vaccinated. The 63-day test will cost producers $400 per animal for feed, yardage, and management. The test starts June 20, and heifers will be returned to producers before pre-breeding exams and the breeding season.

To learn more, contact MU Southwest Research Center at [email protected] or 417-466-2148.