Established in 1990 - The Original Professional Heifer Development and Research Center

Heifer Development Program

Why Should I consider Professional Heifer Development?

The replacement heifer is a mixed blessing for most cow-calf operators. On one hand, she represents future profitability and genetic improvement of the cow herd, thus her selection and development are of paramount importance to the continued success of any operation. On the other hand, the replacement heifer is an inconvenience at best. Her smaller size and higher nutritional requirements dictate she be raised and managed separately from the rest of the herd; yet the fact that she is essentially non-productive for the first two years of her life makes her easy prey for mismanagement. Nevertheless, proper growth and development of the replacement female from birth until she produces her first calf is of critical importance for her to become a highly productive part of a rancher's business.

If you think professional heifer development is an option for you, please browse through the following informational topics to learn more about our program and the advantages professional heifer development could bring to your operation!

How Does the Heartland Heifer Development Program Work?

Heartland Cattle Company focuses on custom and contractual heifer development. Our custom program revolves around developing and artificially inseminating heifers that will return to their home ranch while our contractual program focuses on the purchase, development, artificial insemination, and packaging of heifers to meet contractual specifications for breed, genetics, mature size, service sire, calving dates, etc... We are also maintain an active research program which allows us to implement the latest advances in nutrition, reproduction, and health programs, all of which contribute to improved reproductive efficiency.

We are located six miles southeast of McCook, NE with a yard capacity of 5,000 head. (Click here for directions to our facility.) Pen size will accommodate groups of 60, 80, 100, and 120 head with ample bunk space for every animal. We maintain the highest standards of quality in all aspects of the business including frequent sampling and analyses of individual feedstuffs and mixed rations. Health and reproductive status are also closely monitored by our management staff and consulting veterinarian. By utilizing stringent culling criteria for reproductive tract score, pelvic measurement, weight, frame score, and overall general health and appearance, we are able to remove non-fertile and non-uniform cattle from the program prior to breeding, thus reducing your overall developmental costs. The use of ultrasonography to verify the conception date and viability of the fetus also allows us to identify open heifers earlier so that only bred replacements are returned to the ranch, thus reducing your overall expense.

For more specific information about our heifer development program, please see our link to Frequently Asked Questions about Heifer Development .

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Why is Heartland's Professional Heifer Development Program Profitable to my Overall Ranch Operation?

•  Reduced Breeding Costs - Stringent culling practices will eliminate poor replacement prospects prior to investing time, labor, and expense into breeding these heifers.

•  Increased Conception Rates – Only early-born, growthy heifers will be kept as replacement prospects. In addition, reproductive tract scores will help identify heifers that are the most likely to conceive.

•  Larger Calves at Weaning – Estrous synchronization will result in an earlier average conception date. This translates into older, heavier calves at weaning. In addition, the use of high accuracy EPD sires will result in calves with superior genetics for economically important production traits.

•  More Uniform Calf Crop – The use of high accuracy EPD sires will result in a calf crop with uniform genetics for growth, frame, muscle, etc… This leads to increased quality and predictability of steer and heifer progeny and makes retained ownership a viable option.

•  Decreased Bull Expense – With the incorporation of an AI program, fewer bulls will be purchased and maintained by cow-calf producers. This will also eliminate the need to maintain a separate calving ease bull battery for breeding replacement heifers.

•  Less Calving Difficulty – AI sires with high accuracy EPDs for calving ease will be used in our breeding program. This will result in less calving difficulty and calf loss, heifers that breed back earlier, and overall increased productivity of replacement heifers.

•  Decreased Labor at Calving – A group of heifers that undergo estrous synchronization will likely have a shorter calving interval. This decreases labor requirements at calving and increases the amount of time that can be devoted to other enterprises. A concentrated calving season also simplifies subsequent nutrition and health programs.

•  Increased Herd Size – Cow-calf producers who don't have to develop their own replacement heifers can redirect feed resources that are normally reserved for replacement heifers to additional cows, thus increasing total herd size.

•  Emphasis can be placed on Young Cows – If replacement heifers are developed elsewhere, cow-calf producers can devote their best feed resources and facilities to their two- and three-year old cows. Managing young cows separately from the mature cowherd should increase overall productivity and profitability of the cowherd.

•  Improved Record Keeping and Profitability – Detailed information will be kept on individual heifers including pelvic measurements, reproductive tract scores, periodic weights and subsequent gain, breeding dates, conception date and sire, and expected calving date. By tracking the detailed growth and fertility of heifers, producers will be able to incorporate this information into their management decisions and improve long-term progress.

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How Can I Benefit from the Heartland program?

For many cow-calf producers, it is impractical to maintain replacement heifers separate from the mature cow-herd. Utilizing professional heifer development can minimize the extra feed resources required for these females while decreasing additional time, labor, facilities, and expense required for on-ranch development and AI programs. Some of the direct benefits that you'll find in the Heartland program include…

  • All heifers are bred by AI, utilizing multiple trait, high accuracy EPD sires for economically important production traits. This results in superior genetics for:
    • Milk - more pounds at weaning
    • Growth - improved feedyard performance
    • Carcass Traits - consistent, high quality performance on the rail
  • Our data indicate that ranchers who retain custom or contractual heifers developed at Heartland achieve an average 8% increase in second calf rebreed rate when compared to their on-ranch developed heifers. This is due to:
    • Proper nutrition from weaning to first calving
    • The elimination of ‘problem' heifers prior to the first breeding season
    • Earlier born calves, thus giving the heifer more time to rebreed
  • Reduced need for ‘calving ease' bulls results in :
    • Less cash outlay by the rancher for herd sires
    • Ability to utilize high accuracy calving ease sires through the use of artificial insemination

Not sure if professional heifer development is right for you? Then consider the following list of items. These indirect benefits of professional heifer development are just as important to overall ranch profitability as the direct benefits we discusses above.

  • Mature cows are the most efficient harvesters of grass resources. When heifers are developed off ranch, a comparable number of mature producing cow units can be added to your production system, resulting in increased cash flow due to:
    • More calves weaned
    • More efficient use of forage by mature cows due to their increased physical capacity and
      lower net energy requirements for gain
  • Two and three year olds can be managed separately from the mature cow herd when facilities, labor, and your best feed resources are no longer directed toward replacements. The resulting improvement in overall cowherd performance and profitability is attributed to...
    • Young cows receiving a higher quality diet necessary for final growth, maturity, and lactation
    • Extra time and attention being devoted to the younger cows which are considered a “high risk” management group
    • Mature cows no longer being fed beyond their needs in order to get enough nutrients to the younger cows
  • Data collection, information transfer and genetic consultation by Heartland personnel will increase your long term profitability by...
    • Identifying cowherd strengths and weaknesses
    • Effective goal setting
    • Providing fertility, feedyard, and carcass data analyses for genetic improvement

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