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Cattle market topic of Cow/Calf Corner

How many replacement heifers ranchers should keep and the good and bad news in the cattle market are topics addressed in the most recent Oklahoma State University's Cow/Calf Corner.

OSU Extension specialist Glenn Selk examines how many heifers to keep.

"Each year commercial cattle producers must decide how many replacement heifers to put back in their herd," Selk said. "Matching the number of cattle to the grass and feed resources on the ranch is a constant challenge for any cowman. Also, producers strive to maintain cow numbers to match their marketing plans for the long-term changes in the cattle cycle. Therefore, it is a constant struggle to evaluate the number of replacement heifers to be developed or bought to bring into the herd each year."

Selk said the need to properly estimate the expected mature weight is important to understand heifer growing programs. Mature size has increased over the last half century. Rules of thumb applying to 1,000-pound mature cows from your herd help to better estimate the needed size and weights for heifers in your program, he said.

Most commercial herds have cows averaging about 1,200 pounds or more. This requires that the heifers from these cows must weigh at least 780 pounds or more at the start of their first season to expect a high percentage to be cycling when you turn in the bulls.

OSU Extension specialist Derrell Peel said current cattle markets can be thought of as a series of bad news/good news stories.

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