Feed Lot

MAR 2018

Feedlots and cow/calf operations in the beef industry who feed 500 or more has annually on grains and concentrates; maintain 500 or more beef cows; backgrounder, stocker/grower, preconditioner; veterinarian, nutritionist, consultant

Issue link: https://feedlotmagazine.epubxp.com/i/948915

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Page 17 of 31

Ranchers offer tips for heifer development Hear what works for these particiular operations By HEATHER SMITH THOMAS Successful development of good replacement heifers depends on age at puberty, herd health (biosecurity, vaccination program, parasite control, etc.), and nutri- tion. Fertility and age at puberty are heritable, but influenced by nu- trition. Heifers need optimal nutri- tion for growth (proper amounts of energy, protein, trace minerals, etc.) but not overfed. A heifer ge- netically programmed for early pu- berty and fertility, on a moderate plane of nutrition, will cycle earlier and be more successful for a long life of production than a less fertile heifer that is overfed to reach "tar- get weight" for breeding. Programs vary for heifer devel- opment. Here four ranchers detail what works for their operation. Weaning Jack Holden's family (Valier, Montana) has raised Hereford seedstock more than 50 years. "We've always developed our heifers on grass, weaning the end of August at 7 months of age. We wean in a lot for a few days, on a corn-based pellet that's 14% protein and 4% fat, feeding between 2 and 3 pounds per day. We continue to feed them when they are back out on grass, mainly so we can walk through them daily--to check for health issues and get them used to people. This helps with disposition and gentles them. This is also a way to get Bovatec into them (in the pellet). I firmly believe that feeding ionophores to heifers aids in earlier puberty," says Holden. Joe Van Newkirk, whose family has raised Hereford seedstock cat- tle near Oshkosh, Nebraska, for several generations, says their calves are born February-March and weaned the end of September or first of October. "We don't fenceline wean but the cows are right outside the corral. The calves get a commercial pellet (complete feed) the first 3 weeks and big bales of native hay to eat free choice," he says. After that, replacement heifers are put on a ration of ground alfalfa hay, sorghum silage, and 5 pounds of wet corn. "We provide a supple- ment pellet that contains mainly minerals/vitamins and a little pro- tein, to balance the diet," Joe says. The heifers are in a large pen and fed in bunks. "We keep them on that ration un- til early December to get a little bark on them before winter, then remove the grain. We don't want them fat," he explains. Keith Elkington breeds Polled Herefords near Idaho Falls, Idaho since the 1960's. "We don't baby re- placements. We wean them at the upper ranch and bring them to the valley where we put them on round bales. We don't feed any grain," he says. They grow up a little more slowly but this shows which ones are efficient and able to perform on natural feeds, and they last longer as cows. Mark and Della Ehlke raise reg- istered Herefords and Angus near Townsend, Montana. "We wean the heifers like we do our bull calves, giving a pre-weaning round of vac- cinations. When we take them off the cows we put them on a wean- ing pellet (fed 1.5 to 2 pounds per day) and free-choice hay, then they 18 FEED•LOT  March 2018 COW/CALF CORNER

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