Breeding beef heifers for quality takes more than better genetics. It requires attention to details.
Dave Patterson, University of Missouri Extension beef specialist, told what it takes to make Show-Me-Select replacement heifers at North Central Missouri College's Barton Farm Campus in Trenton. The meeting was a makeup for one canceled by snow.
"Many producers of Show-Me heifers have learned the importance of nutrition," Patterson said. "They learned they weren't feeding enough."
Before breeding time, heifers being bred for their first calf should be gaining 1.5 to 2 pounds a day. "In many cases heifers aren't big enough," Patterson says.
The "Missouri Recipe" for quality calves recommends breeding heifers after they reach 65% of mature body weight. "Too many producers underestimate the size of their cows," Patterson adds.
Producing higher quality calves
The aim of the SMS replacement heifer program is to produce more live calves of higher quality. While calving-ease genetics is the center of the program, it takes more. "It is total quality management," Patterson says.
That includes selecting proven sires with not only calving-ease genetics but also weight gain and other traits for profitable calves.
Using proven sires is a foundation of the Show-Me-Select plan. That means a sire with enough tested offspring to show what the bull can do.
Patterson emphasizes that commercial cow-calf producers should not use unproven bulls. "You're not in the business of proving sires," he says.