The Beefmaster Pay Weight
continued from page 25 heifers were fed separately the average pregnancy rate for both groups increased to 84.5%. There are three main strategies for feeding heifers to this target weight: steady, rapid early and rapid late. There are advantages and drawbacks to each strategy. The steady gain strategy is Steady
the most straightforward. As outlined in the example above, heifers maintain a steady ADG over the entire feeding period in order to reach their target weight. However, the rapid early and rapid late strategies can
be used to take advantage of cheaper feed that is only available at certain times. In the rapid early strategy, heifers are fed to achieve a much higher ADG in order to reach the target weight sooner and once heifers have reached their target weight they are just fed to maintain their weight. However, at a heavier weight, heifersâ€™ maintenance requirements will also be higher Rapid Late and more feed will be required. The rapid late strategy is the opposite. Heifers are maintained until closer to when the Breeding breeding season starts and then fed to quickly gain to the target weight. The advantage of the rapid late strategy is that heifers will not gain until later so they will be maintained at a lighter weight for longer and require less feed for maintenance.
This strategy can also take advantage of compensatory gain. However, this strategy can be quite risky. If heifers are not able to gain weight quickly enough to reach target weight they may not reach puberty before the start of the breeding season. What matters most is not how you feed your heifers, but that you feed them. As mentioned earlier, body weight is the most important in getting heifers bred. You have to feed them to breed them! While body weight is the most critical factor in heifer development, age and body fat are also important. Age is especially important in Bos indicus influenced cattle, such as Beefmasters. Bos indicus heifers reach puberty later than Bos taurus heifers which can make reaching puberty in time for the first breeding season a challenge. Feeding Bos indicus influenced heifers to at least 65% of their
mature body weight helps overcome this challenge. Recent studies suggest that Bos taurus heifers can reach puberty at as little as 50% of their mature body weight. Selection for early puberty, especially through selecting on scrotal circumference in bulls, has enabled these heifers to reach puberty earlier and at lighter body weights. Heifer development is not just about nutrition, it is also a result of the selection. This selection occurs when you decide which heifers to keep and also earlier when you choose the bulls to use in your herd and sire these heifers. Because it can be difficult for Bos indicus heifers to reach puberty earlier, some producers choose to wait and breed them as two years olds to calve at three. In harsh environments, such as South Florida, this may be the only continued on page 27
A publication dedicated to serving commercial cattlemen and produced by Beefmaster Breeders United.