Marketing Replacement Heifers - Questions to Consider
Buying replacement heifers can be an efficient way to source females. You buy what you need either ready to breed or already bred. You can manage your cow herd as one genetic unit and run more cows by purchasing females that provide you with the maternal traits you require. Then you can focus bull selection on those traits (Iike growth and carcass) that will produce desirable feeder calves. It seems easy enough to step out and buy the females you want but several cow-calf operators call annually looking for names of producers who have F1 or crossbred replacement heifers for sale.
Figure 1. Selling Replacement Heifers for Breeding Can Increase Returns
There are many straightbred herds in Ontario that could benefit from an ongoing relationship with another breeder looking to source replacement females. Heifer calves generally bring a discount in comparison to their steer calf contemporaries when sold through the feeder market. Crossing your straightbred herd with a second breed that is known for its maternal traits could provide you with additional options when it comes to marketing your calves. The resulting crossbred calves would benefit from heterosis (hybrid vigour) resulting in improved gains and calf livability. Selecting the right breeds could also improve the marketability of the steer calves, while improving the returns on their heifer mates by increasing your marketing options. The top cut of the crossbred heifers could be retained and marketed as replacement females.
Figures 2. Cows from Female Lines Have Outstanding Maternal Traits
Understanding your customers' needs is a key in developing any successful product. You need to survey the marketplace and identify the critical factors which your customers are looking for in replacement heifers. Can you fulfill their needs with your current herd ? Most commercial producers when asked would list the following criteria on their shopping list when it comes to replacement females:
It is important to investigate the opportunities in the replacement heifer market before making the leap. Here are some of the questions you need to answer before proceeding
The female is the foundation of the herd and putting together a strong group of uniform females will put you well on the way to creating and marketing "reputation" cattle.
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