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This guide discusses the benefits and concerns in the use of growth implants with beef heifers.
Growth promoting implants are used extensively in beef cattle finishing programs and in suckling and growing steer programs. Implants are one of the most economical means of improving performance. However, producers are concerned with implanting suckling and growing heifers because of the possible negative effects on subsequent reproduction of heifers selected as replacements.
Replacement heifers need to grow rapidly, reach puberty early, conceive early, and increase in skeletal structure to reduce calving difficulty. If implants could be used to increase growth and skeletal structure and not affect fertility, they could be very advantageous.
Over 40 research studies have been reported on the effects of implants on growth rate, pelvic size, reproduction, and calving difficulty of replacement heifers. This research was summarized to provide the following recommendations on the use of implants for heifers. Economic considerations are also provided to help producers determine their risk/benefit ratio.