This advice goes for all animals species, not just cattle! Our personal experience is that we prefer to breed those virgin heifers at 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 years of age. Breeding them to calve as 2-year-olds is comparable to a girl giving birth at 14-15. Breeding and calving later can reduce calving difficulties by allowing the youngster to fully mature. Even though conventional wisdom says it’s not profitable to miss out on that first calf and that by selecting for early calves, you are selecting also for early maturing, is sound business. However, there are some ranchers who feel they more than pick up on the other end with their cows producing until they are 14-15, rather than dropping out of the herd at 10-11. So, right or wrong, we don’t necessarily ‘develop’ the heifers, we simply let them grow up with the mature cows and become sensible, healthy, and productive females.
Here is another thought from Burke Teichert, a man whom I’ve yet to meet, who has words of wisdom and experience worth pondering taken from his column “Strategic Planning for the Ranch” in Beef magazine.
Don’t overdevelop replacement heifers.
“It will cost you money in several ways. If some don’t breed, take heart in the fact that the “good ones” did. At first breeding, 55% of expected mature cow weight is adequate in most situations, as opposed to the 65% that’s long been recommended.”
Don’t take better care of bulls than they should need.
” Since a bull doesn’t need to gestate or lactate, if he requires exceptional care, do you really want his daughters to become your cows?”