The Tennessee Beef Heifer Development Program is to incentivize the repopulation of the beef herd through custom heifer development. It will be accomplished by the implementation of management practices with access to more productive replacement females allowing for more rapid expansion of Tennessee's beef herd. It will also improve the longevity of these females, decreasing turnover and providing for exponential improvement in genetics and associated revenue generation.
The program is a partnership of the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture and the Tennessee Farmer's Cooperative designed to:
Increase the opportunity for custom replacement heifer development.
Demonstrate proper replacement heifer development to beef cattle producers in Tennessee.
Increase the implementation of heifer development practices that will result in optimum reproductive efficiency as mature cows.
Demonstrate management techniques necessary for replacement heifers to reach target weights and breed successfully.
Demonstrate methods of evaluating heifers for disposition, performance, and reproductive traits.
Heifers will be evaluated for pelvic area and reproductive tract score prior to breeding. Estrus will be synchronized and heifers exposed to a single timed artificial insemination (AI). Estrus detection and AI will be conducted for the remainder of a 45-day breeding season. Selection of AI sires will be performed by the program's administrator working with the advisory committee. Sires requested beyond committee selections must qualify under Tennessee Agriculture Enhancement program sire genetic requirements. Calving ease will be a high priority for sire selection. Pregnancy will be diagnosed approximately 30 days after the end of the breeding season via ultrasonography.
Heifers will be maintained on standing forage, hay or haylage and supplement designed for optimum growth. A grazing plan that includes cool and warm-season grasses will compose a majority of the nutritional program. Heifers will be fed to weigh approximately 65% of their projected mature weight at the beginning of the breeding season.