Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Can you get 10 years out of your heifers?

Patrick Gunn will cover current heifer development tools and strategies at ICA’s regional BeefMeets.

Traditional wisdom and economic analysis would suggest that most cows in the Midwest need at least four to six years of consecutive production to turn a profit over the sum of cash and fixed costs. However, Iowa State University’s Net Present Value decision tool shows replacements purchased at record high prices in early 2015 may need to produce upwards of 10 calves to pay for themselves based on current feeder cattle price projections.

That projection leaves many producers who expanded their herds in 2014 and 2015 with record high-priced replacement heifers wondering how they will pay for that expansion with calf prices falling.

“Now, perhaps more than ever before, longevity will be the key to profitability when it comes to replacements that entered the herd over the past two years,” says Patrick Gunn, ISU Cow/Calf Specialist. “However, managing, identifying and breeding for females that will maintain themselves in the herd for six years, let alone a decade, can be a daunting task.”

But with careful management, there are strategies that can help producers see a better return on their investment. For example, Gunn points out that, “Research has shown that 75% of future income in the cow-calf operation may be derived from heifers that calve in the first 21 days of the calving season as 2-yr-olds.”

Gunn will share current heifer selection tools and strategies to develop more of these females at ICA’s first annual BeefMeets at the end of June. Gunn will speak at the Northeast Regional BeefMeet in Independence on June 23, the Southwest Regional BeefMeet in Atlantic on June 28 and the Southeast Regional BeefMeet in Atlantic on June 29. Registration is only $25 for ICA members and $50 for non-members. Register at

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