Producers attend 2013 Beef School
By DAVE DUGAN
Recently we concluded the 2013 Beef School held throughout Ohio. We had a good attendance at the local location, North Adams High School, with an average of over 30 producers for the three sessions.
The program included several things of interest, with good discussion following each night. One topic that was discussed was the management of replacement heifers. With cattle and feed prices being as high as they currently are, giving these females that were selected to be replacements their best chance is very important. The discussion about keeping your own heifers or buying replacement heifers can be another discussion, but regardless of which route you take, management is a key.
With the average herd size for beef cows in Ohio being close to 20, the management of heifers can often be a low priority. If you select 10 or 15 percent for replacements, that would be either two or three heifers in a herd of 20. For larger producers it is less of an issue because if you are looking at 100 cow herd, keeping 10 to 15 heifers makes it more logical to have these heifers in a separate pasture vs. the two or three heifers.
Regardless of the numbers, for the good of the heifers, they need to be managed separately. They need more nutrients than the cows ranging from four years old to the more mature cows in the herd. Older cows may need to be treated different than the bulk of the herd, too. That depends on how old “old” is. You will know the older cows that need just a little extra feed. Both the heifers and the old cows tend to not be able to complete with the majority of the cows, so extra management, or TLC, may be needed.
For heifers, the nutrients are needed to continue the growth of the female herself, produce milk for the first calf, and maintain the young female’s body condition so she will breed back in a timely manner. You are asking her to do quite a bit if feeding her like a mature cow in an environment that she may struggle to compete in, if running with the rest of the herd. If you feed the entire herd to meet the heifer’s nutrient needs with $7 to $8 corn that will get costly in a hurry. The bulk of the herd will not need those additional nutrients if your forages are of decent quality. Again, a forage test will answer how good your forages are, but the mature cow’s nutritional needs are less than the heifer’s.
By keeping these young females, the two year olds and maybe even the three year olds in a separate pasture may pay dividends in the long run. These young replacements can be managed to do just that, replace the cows that have been removed from the herd. The cost of replacements, either home raised or bought, is too much to not manage them into production for your herd. Yes, it is extra work. Another place to feed and even another bull, but this bull could be the next bull for your cow herd.
In smaller herds, if this just seems to be too much for just a few heifers, there are other options. There are people who develop heifers. For small herds this option may be worth looking into. This option is available here in Southern Ohio.
Dates to Remember
Pesticide License Testing Private and commercial testing for applicator license will be offered on April 8 and May 13 at the Old Y Restaurant. You are required to pre-register by calling the Ohio Department of Agriculture at 800–282-1955 or online at http://pested.osu.edu. Space is limited so register soon. Study materials are also available at the same address or phone number.
Highland Co. Cattlemen Annual Banquet is April 3.
(David Dugan is an OSU Extension Educator, ANR, Ohio Valley EERA.)