- Animals: bovine
- Animal Production: housing, grazing management, livestock breeding
The cost of developing replacement heifers has a tremendous impact on the profitability of cow-calf operations, and the economic value of reproduction for commercial beef producers has been reported to be five times greater than calf growth. Therefore, methods of heifer development that decrease costs but maintain high reproductive performance can have a tremendous impact on profitability. Heifer development throughout the North Central Region usually involves placing heifers into a confined feeding situation from weaning until breeding. Development of heifers in a confined environment creates several management problems; the greatest of which are the labor and cost involved with daily feeding.
Recent data from our laboratory has indicated that heifers can be developed on native range, and reproductive performance can be maintained. Therefore this proposal will evaluate the cost and reproductive performance differences between heifers developed in a conventional system and ones developed on forage. It will also evaluate the economic impact and overall sustainability of forage-based heifer development and post-insemination supplementation.
Development and utilization of forage-based heifer development and post-insemination supplementation has the potential to reduce the number of animals fed in confinement situations, decrease cost, and maintain reproductive efficiency. This will allow ranchers to be more profitable by decreasing labor and allowing them more time to devote to other obligations.
Project objectives from proposal:
Beef cattle producers face many challenges because of volatility in cattle prices. Simply increasing pounds weaned does not automatically improve profits. Methods to reduce costs need to be evaluated to ensure that they maintain or increase productivity and therefore increase profitability. This project will evaluate an alternative method of heifer development that has the potential of decreasing the labor and costs associated with heifer development. Development and utilization of forage-based heifer development and post-insemination supplementation has the potential to reduce the number of animals fed in confinement situations, decrease cost, and maintain reproductive efficiency. This will allow ranchers to be more profitable by decreasing labor and allowing them more time to devote to other obligations.
Specific short-term outcomes include:
1) the development of limits for post-AI nutritional changes,
2) economic benefits to producers for decreasing labor and costs associated with heifer development, and
3) knowledge that heifers can be developed on native range without decreasing reproductive efficiency.
Specific Intermediate-term outcomes include:
1) demonstrated applicability of forage-based heifer development and post-AI nutritional management, and
2) adoption of this technology by regional producers.
Long-term outcomes will likely include:
1) a decrease in the number of heifers developed in a confinement situation, and
2)a decrease in the costs and labor involved with heifer development.