Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



Presented at Range Beef Cow Symposium XXI, December 1-3, 2009, Casper, Wyoming. Sponsored by Cooperative Extension Services and the Animal Science Departments of the University of Wyoming, Colorado State University, South Dakota State University, and the University of Nebraska¬Lincoln.


The replacement heifer is a mixed blessing for cow-calf operators. On one hand, she represents the future profitability and genetic improvement of the cow herd; thus her selection and development are of paramount importance to the continued success of any cow herd. On the other hand, the replacement heifer is an inconvenience at best. She is essentially non-productive for the first two-and-a-half years of her life; thus she places a significant drain on a rancher’s cash flow, making 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 the cow herd.