Animal Scientist Rick Funston of Nebraska Offers His Advice on How to Raise Heifers EconomicallyTue, 20 Nov 2018 14:21:44 CST
Nebraska animal scientist Rick Funston says it’s a great time to own cows, but only if you have a competitive cost structure and the right genetics and management to fit today’s marketplace.
“We’re looking at breakeven at best in many beef cattle operations,” said Funston, a reproductive physiologist at the University of Nebraska. “Production inputs have gone up, so we have to look at innovative ways to decrease cost without compromising fertility, which is the number one trait in beef production - especially from the cow-calf sector, but all the way to the plate. If we don’t have a live calf, we don’t have anything for the consumer.”
To watch a short videoclip featuring Rick Funston, University of Nebraska animal scientist, talking about developing heifers economically at the Feeding Quality Forum earlier this year, click or tap the PLAYBOX in the window below.
That’s why he focuses much of his work on developing replacement females.
“It’s a huge financial cost before she produces a calf, a weaned calf or something that can go on in the production system,” Funston said. “So, we have to look at low-input development systems so we don’t have exorbitant costs for a female that is difficult to get rebred.”
He encourages a look at cheaper resources. Corn residue may bring slower gains, but with today’s higher weaning weights, heifers may only have 250 pounds to gain. What’s more, low-input heifer development produces females that respond better than peers developed to higher weights.
“When we look at any replacement female, young cow nutritional program, we tend to look at everything that goes on to get her at a certain weight, at a certain body condition at breeding and I think we do a terrible injustice to locking these heifers up and getting them too fat thinking we are getting them all pregnant, because when we turn them out to grass, or whatever their next production environment is, their previous environment has a huge impact on how they will respond,” he explained.
And that just might mean the difference in how long that female stays in the herd.
Source - Certified Angus Beef
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