Jim Jensen & Joe Van Newkirk share their tips on selecting replacement heifers | TSLN.com

Jim Jensen & Joe Van Newkirk share their tips on selecting replacement heifers

Most stockmen try to keep an adequate number of heifer calves as replacements. There are many criteria for making final decisions regarding which heifers to keep and which ones to sell, and most breeders have certain goals.

Jim Jensen, Lucky Seven Angus Ranch, raises Black Angus cattle in Wyoming, summering them in mountains near Boulder and wintering them at a lower elevation near Riverton. “My main goal is that cattle be functional – with good feet and legs – and look like they have enough fleshing ability to stay in the herd,” he says.

“These are about only things we select for, in looking at the cattle. I figure I’m not smart enough to figure out which ones are the good ones. We’ll have 500 heifer calves and on paper we cull the ones whose mothers weren’t that great. That’s the first sort. We use an ear-notcher and take a notch out of their ear tags. Those heifers will never end up in the herd,” he says.

“About half of what’s left we breed and calve out. This is a good way to see which ones really make the grade. We end up selling at least 100 three-year-olds each year. What’s left go into our cowherd,” Jensen says.

The first calf at side is primarily what he looks at in determining which cows stay. If a person has the luxury of being able to keep more heifers than needed, this gives a good opportunity to make some sorts along the way – on fertility, mothering ability, udders, etc.

“In our registered cattle, where we have all the paperwork and records to look at, in all honesty a person shouldn’t have to go out in the corral and cull. You should be able to pick them on parentage and their mother’s production, etc. You can get a good feel for which ones will work,” says Jensen.

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“One problem in our industry is that we think we’re smart enough to look at a cow and judge how good she is. A few years ago it was the big, long cows. Now we’re getting into the so-called big, easy-fleshing cattle. The main problem we have is that some of the seedstock producers are not good cattlemen. They are good salesmen. They tell us what type of cow we ought to have, because that’s the type they are raising. The seedstock industry has let us down by convincing us to make our buying decisions on what cattle look like,” he explains.

“We should be raising cattle on what they can do. You have to make sure they can walk and travel, and disposition is a factor – especially if you have a small operation and handle cattle a lot. It’s not as big a factor in a desert operation where cattle aren’t handled,” he says.

Jensen believes that culling on disposition, especially when cattle have to run in tough conditions in big open country, tends to take away some survivability traits. “There’s a strong correlation with survival and breeding. I think bulls with more vigor (and often a little wilder) will breed a few more cows. If we try to select completely for disposition, I think we’ll hurt ourselves,” Jensen says. There’s a balance of traits needed, he emphasizes, and he’s cautious about selecting for extremes.

When selecting replacement heifers, Jensen says producers should look first at profitability, with no emotional attachments. “We have to look at which cows will make money, and which ones won’t. As an industry we’ve let emotion creep in. We want cows that are prettier than those of our neighbor. My philosophy is that I’d rather be the guy who takes a check to the bank and makes the payment. If I have a three-legged, one-teated cow that’s profitable, I should keep her over a pretty cow that’s losing money,” Jensen says.

He wants cows that will do the job, and feed efficiency is hugely important. “Pretty cattle are often the least feed efficient. We need to pick cattle from a test group rather than from an emotional standpoint. We also need traits that keep calves alive. Many of these traits correlate with cattle that can survive at high elevations,” he says.

Most stockmen try to keep an adequate number of heifer calves as replacements. There are many criteria for making final decisions regarding which heifers to keep and which ones to sell, and most breeders have certain goals.

Jim Jensen, Lucky Seven Angus Ranch, raises Black Angus cattle in Wyoming, summering them in mountains near Boulder and wintering them at a lower elevation near Riverton. “My main goal is that cattle be functional – with good feet and legs – and look like they have enough fleshing ability to stay in the herd,” he says.

“These are about only things we select for, in looking at the cattle. I figure I’m not smart enough to figure out which ones are the good ones. We’ll have 500 heifer calves and on paper we cull the ones whose mothers weren’t that great. That’s the first sort. We use an ear-notcher and take a notch out of their ear tags. Those heifers will never end up in the herd,” he says.

“About half of what’s left we breed and calve out. This is a good way to see which ones really make the grade. We end up selling at least 100 three-year-olds each year. What’s left go into our cowherd,” Jensen says.

The first calf at side is primarily what he looks at in determining which cows stay. If a person has the luxury of being able to keep more heifers than needed, this gives a good opportunity to make some sorts along the way – on fertility, mothering ability, udders, etc.

“In our registered cattle, where we have all the paperwork and records to look at, in all honesty a person shouldn’t have to go out in the corral and cull. You should be able to pick them on parentage and their mother’s production, etc. You can get a good feel for which ones will work,” says Jensen.

“One problem in our industry is that we think we’re smart enough to look at a cow and judge how good she is. A few years ago it was the big, long cows. Now we’re getting into the so-called big, easy-fleshing cattle. The main problem we have is that some of the seedstock producers are not good cattlemen. They are good salesmen. They tell us what type of cow we ought to have, because that’s the type they are raising. The seedstock industry has let us down by convincing us to make our buying decisions on what cattle look like,” he explains.

“We should be raising cattle on what they can do. You have to make sure they can walk and travel, and disposition is a factor – especially if you have a small operation and handle cattle a lot. It’s not as big a factor in a desert operation where cattle aren’t handled,” he says.

Jensen believes that culling on disposition, especially when cattle have to run in tough conditions in big open country, tends to take away some survivability traits. “There’s a strong correlation with survival and breeding. I think bulls with more vigor (and often a little wilder) will breed a few more cows. If we try to select completely for disposition, I think we’ll hurt ourselves,” Jensen says. There’s a balance of traits needed, he emphasizes, and he’s cautious about selecting for extremes.

When selecting replacement heifers, Jensen says producers should look first at profitability, with no emotional attachments. “We have to look at which cows will make money, and which ones won’t. As an industry we’ve let emotion creep in. We want cows that are prettier than those of our neighbor. My philosophy is that I’d rather be the guy who takes a check to the bank and makes the payment. If I have a three-legged, one-teated cow that’s profitable, I should keep her over a pretty cow that’s losing money,” Jensen says.

He wants cows that will do the job, and feed efficiency is hugely important. “Pretty cattle are often the least feed efficient. We need to pick cattle from a test group rather than from an emotional standpoint. We also need traits that keep calves alive. Many of these traits correlate with cattle that can survive at high elevations,” he says.

Most stockmen try to keep an adequate number of heifer calves as replacements. There are many criteria for making final decisions regarding which heifers to keep and which ones to sell, and most breeders have certain goals.

Jim Jensen, Lucky Seven Angus Ranch, raises Black Angus cattle in Wyoming, summering them in mountains near Boulder and wintering them at a lower elevation near Riverton. “My main goal is that cattle be functional – with good feet and legs – and look like they have enough fleshing ability to stay in the herd,” he says.

“These are about only things we select for, in looking at the cattle. I figure I’m not smart enough to figure out which ones are the good ones. We’ll have 500 heifer calves and on paper we cull the ones whose mothers weren’t that great. That’s the first sort. We use an ear-notcher and take a notch out of their ear tags. Those heifers will never end up in the herd,” he says.

“About half of what’s left we breed and calve out. This is a good way to see which ones really make the grade. We end up selling at least 100 three-year-olds each year. What’s left go into our cowherd,” Jensen says.

The first calf at side is primarily what he looks at in determining which cows stay. If a person has the luxury of being able to keep more heifers than needed, this gives a good opportunity to make some sorts along the way – on fertility, mothering ability, udders, etc.

“In our registered cattle, where we have all the paperwork and records to look at, in all honesty a person shouldn’t have to go out in the corral and cull. You should be able to pick them on parentage and their mother’s production, etc. You can get a good feel for which ones will work,” says Jensen.

“One problem in our industry is that we think we’re smart enough to look at a cow and judge how good she is. A few years ago it was the big, long cows. Now we’re getting into the so-called big, easy-fleshing cattle. The main problem we have is that some of the seedstock producers are not good cattlemen. They are good salesmen. They tell us what type of cow we ought to have, because that’s the type they are raising. The seedstock industry has let us down by convincing us to make our buying decisions on what cattle look like,” he explains.

“We should be raising cattle on what they can do. You have to make sure they can walk and travel, and disposition is a factor – especially if you have a small operation and handle cattle a lot. It’s not as big a factor in a desert operation where cattle aren’t handled,” he says.

Jensen believes that culling on disposition, especially when cattle have to run in tough conditions in big open country, tends to take away some survivability traits. “There’s a strong correlation with survival and breeding. I think bulls with more vigor (and often a little wilder) will breed a few more cows. If we try to select completely for disposition, I think we’ll hurt ourselves,” Jensen says. There’s a balance of traits needed, he emphasizes, and he’s cautious about selecting for extremes.

When selecting replacement heifers, Jensen says producers should look first at profitability, with no emotional attachments. “We have to look at which cows will make money, and which ones won’t. As an industry we’ve let emotion creep in. We want cows that are prettier than those of our neighbor. My philosophy is that I’d rather be the guy who takes a check to the bank and makes the payment. If I have a three-legged, one-teated cow that’s profitable, I should keep her over a pretty cow that’s losing money,” Jensen says.

He wants cows that will do the job, and feed efficiency is hugely important. “Pretty cattle are often the least feed efficient. We need to pick cattle from a test group rather than from an emotional standpoint. We also need traits that keep calves alive. Many of these traits correlate with cattle that can survive at high elevations,” he says.

Most stockmen try to keep an adequate number of heifer calves as replacements. There are many criteria for making final decisions regarding which heifers to keep and which ones to sell, and most breeders have certain goals.

Jim Jensen, Lucky Seven Angus Ranch, raises Black Angus cattle in Wyoming, summering them in mountains near Boulder and wintering them at a lower elevation near Riverton. “My main goal is that cattle be functional – with good feet and legs – and look like they have enough fleshing ability to stay in the herd,” he says.

“These are about only things we select for, in looking at the cattle. I figure I’m not smart enough to figure out which ones are the good ones. We’ll have 500 heifer calves and on paper we cull the ones whose mothers weren’t that great. That’s the first sort. We use an ear-notcher and take a notch out of their ear tags. Those heifers will never end up in the herd,” he says.

“About half of what’s left we breed and calve out. This is a good way to see which ones really make the grade. We end up selling at least 100 three-year-olds each year. What’s left go into our cowherd,” Jensen says.

The first calf at side is primarily what he looks at in determining which cows stay. If a person has the luxury of being able to keep more heifers than needed, this gives a good opportunity to make some sorts along the way – on fertility, mothering ability, udders, etc.

“In our registered cattle, where we have all the paperwork and records to look at, in all honesty a person shouldn’t have to go out in the corral and cull. You should be able to pick them on parentage and their mother’s production, etc. You can get a good feel for which ones will work,” says Jensen.

“One problem in our industry is that we think we’re smart enough to look at a cow and judge how good she is. A few years ago it was the big, long cows. Now we’re getting into the so-called big, easy-fleshing cattle. The main problem we have is that some of the seedstock producers are not good cattlemen. They are good salesmen. They tell us what type of cow we ought to have, because that’s the type they are raising. The seedstock industry has let us down by convincing us to make our buying decisions on what cattle look like,” he explains.

“We should be raising cattle on what they can do. You have to make sure they can walk and travel, and disposition is a factor – especially if you have a small operation and handle cattle a lot. It’s not as big a factor in a desert operation where cattle aren’t handled,” he says.

Jensen believes that culling on disposition, especially when cattle have to run in tough conditions in big open country, tends to take away some survivability traits. “There’s a strong correlation with survival and breeding. I think bulls with more vigor (and often a little wilder) will breed a few more cows. If we try to select completely for disposition, I think we’ll hurt ourselves,” Jensen says. There’s a balance of traits needed, he emphasizes, and he’s cautious about selecting for extremes.

When selecting replacement heifers, Jensen says producers should look first at profitability, with no emotional attachments. “We have to look at which cows will make money, and which ones won’t. As an industry we’ve let emotion creep in. We want cows that are prettier than those of our neighbor. My philosophy is that I’d rather be the guy who takes a check to the bank and makes the payment. If I have a three-legged, one-teated cow that’s profitable, I should keep her over a pretty cow that’s losing money,” Jensen says.

He wants cows that will do the job, and feed efficiency is hugely important. “Pretty cattle are often the least feed efficient. We need to pick cattle from a test group rather than from an emotional standpoint. We also need traits that keep calves alive. Many of these traits correlate with cattle that can survive at high elevations,” he says.

Most stockmen try to keep an adequate number of heifer calves as replacements. There are many criteria for making final decisions regarding which heifers to keep and which ones to sell, and most breeders have certain goals.

Jim Jensen, Lucky Seven Angus Ranch, raises Black Angus cattle in Wyoming, summering them in mountains near Boulder and wintering them at a lower elevation near Riverton. “My main goal is that cattle be functional – with good feet and legs – and look like they have enough fleshing ability to stay in the herd,” he says.

“These are about only things we select for, in looking at the cattle. I figure I’m not smart enough to figure out which ones are the good ones. We’ll have 500 heifer calves and on paper we cull the ones whose mothers weren’t that great. That’s the first sort. We use an ear-notcher and take a notch out of their ear tags. Those heifers will never end up in the herd,” he says.

“About half of what’s left we breed and calve out. This is a good way to see which ones really make the grade. We end up selling at least 100 three-year-olds each year. What’s left go into our cowherd,” Jensen says.

The first calf at side is primarily what he looks at in determining which cows stay. If a person has the luxury of being able to keep more heifers than needed, this gives a good opportunity to make some sorts along the way – on fertility, mothering ability, udders, etc.

“In our registered cattle, where we have all the paperwork and records to look at, in all honesty a person shouldn’t have to go out in the corral and cull. You should be able to pick them on parentage and their mother’s production, etc. You can get a good feel for which ones will work,” says Jensen.

“One problem in our industry is that we think we’re smart enough to look at a cow and judge how good she is. A few years ago it was the big, long cows. Now we’re getting into the so-called big, easy-fleshing cattle. The main problem we have is that some of the seedstock producers are not good cattlemen. They are good salesmen. They tell us what type of cow we ought to have, because that’s the type they are raising. The seedstock industry has let us down by convincing us to make our buying decisions on what cattle look like,” he explains.

“We should be raising cattle on what they can do. You have to make sure they can walk and travel, and disposition is a factor – especially if you have a small operation and handle cattle a lot. It’s not as big a factor in a desert operation where cattle aren’t handled,” he says.

Jensen believes that culling on disposition, especially when cattle have to run in tough conditions in big open country, tends to take away some survivability traits. “There’s a strong correlation with survival and breeding. I think bulls with more vigor (and often a little wilder) will breed a few more cows. If we try to select completely for disposition, I think we’ll hurt ourselves,” Jensen says. There’s a balance of traits needed, he emphasizes, and he’s cautious about selecting for extremes.

When selecting replacement heifers, Jensen says producers should look first at profitability, with no emotional attachments. “We have to look at which cows will make money, and which ones won’t. As an industry we’ve let emotion creep in. We want cows that are prettier than those of our neighbor. My philosophy is that I’d rather be the guy who takes a check to the bank and makes the payment. If I have a three-legged, one-teated cow that’s profitable, I should keep her over a pretty cow that’s losing money,” Jensen says.

He wants cows that will do the job, and feed efficiency is hugely important. “Pretty cattle are often the least feed efficient. We need to pick cattle from a test group rather than from an emotional standpoint. We also need traits that keep calves alive. Many of these traits correlate with cattle that can survive at high elevations,” he says.

Most stockmen try to keep an adequate number of heifer calves as replacements. There are many criteria for making final decisions regarding which heifers to keep and which ones to sell, and most breeders have certain goals.

Jim Jensen, Lucky Seven Angus Ranch, raises Black Angus cattle in Wyoming, summering them in mountains near Boulder and wintering them at a lower elevation near Riverton. “My main goal is that cattle be functional – with good feet and legs – and look like they have enough fleshing ability to stay in the herd,” he says.

“These are about only things we select for, in looking at the cattle. I figure I’m not smart enough to figure out which ones are the good ones. We’ll have 500 heifer calves and on paper we cull the ones whose mothers weren’t that great. That’s the first sort. We use an ear-notcher and take a notch out of their ear tags. Those heifers will never end up in the herd,” he says.

“About half of what’s left we breed and calve out. This is a good way to see which ones really make the grade. We end up selling at least 100 three-year-olds each year. What’s left go into our cowherd,” Jensen says.

The first calf at side is primarily what he looks at in determining which cows stay. If a person has the luxury of being able to keep more heifers than needed, this gives a good opportunity to make some sorts along the way – on fertility, mothering ability, udders, etc.

“In our registered cattle, where we have all the paperwork and records to look at, in all honesty a person shouldn’t have to go out in the corral and cull. You should be able to pick them on parentage and their mother’s production, etc. You can get a good feel for which ones will work,” says Jensen.

“One problem in our industry is that we think we’re smart enough to look at a cow and judge how good she is. A few years ago it was the big, long cows. Now we’re getting into the so-called big, easy-fleshing cattle. The main problem we have is that some of the seedstock producers are not good cattlemen. They are good salesmen. They tell us what type of cow we ought to have, because that’s the type they are raising. The seedstock industry has let us down by convincing us to make our buying decisions on what cattle look like,” he explains.

“We should be raising cattle on what they can do. You have to make sure they can walk and travel, and disposition is a factor – especially if you have a small operation and handle cattle a lot. It’s not as big a factor in a desert operation where cattle aren’t handled,” he says.

Jensen believes that culling on disposition, especially when cattle have to run in tough conditions in big open country, tends to take away some survivability traits. “There’s a strong correlation with survival and breeding. I think bulls with more vigor (and often a little wilder) will breed a few more cows. If we try to select completely for disposition, I think we’ll hurt ourselves,” Jensen says. There’s a balance of traits needed, he emphasizes, and he’s cautious about selecting for extremes.

When selecting replacement heifers, Jensen says producers should look first at profitability, with no emotional attachments. “We have to look at which cows will make money, and which ones won’t. As an industry we’ve let emotion creep in. We want cows that are prettier than those of our neighbor. My philosophy is that I’d rather be the guy who takes a check to the bank and makes the payment. If I have a three-legged, one-teated cow that’s profitable, I should keep her over a pretty cow that’s losing money,” Jensen says.

He wants cows that will do the job, and feed efficiency is hugely important. “Pretty cattle are often the least feed efficient. We need to pick cattle from a test group rather than from an emotional standpoint. We also need traits that keep calves alive. Many of these traits correlate with cattle that can survive at high elevations,” he says.

Most stockmen try to keep an adequate number of heifer calves as replacements. There are many criteria for making final decisions regarding which heifers to keep and which ones to sell, and most breeders have certain goals.

Jim Jensen, Lucky Seven Angus Ranch, raises Black Angus cattle in Wyoming, summering them in mountains near Boulder and wintering them at a lower elevation near Riverton. “My main goal is that cattle be functional – with good feet and legs – and look like they have enough fleshing ability to stay in the herd,” he says.

“These are about only things we select for, in looking at the cattle. I figure I’m not smart enough to figure out which ones are the good ones. We’ll have 500 heifer calves and on paper we cull the ones whose mothers weren’t that great. That’s the first sort. We use an ear-notcher and take a notch out of their ear tags. Those heifers will never end up in the herd,” he says.

“About half of what’s left we breed and calve out. This is a good way to see which ones really make the grade. We end up selling at least 100 three-year-olds each year. What’s left go into our cowherd,” Jensen says.

The first calf at side is primarily what he looks at in determining which cows stay. If a person has the luxury of being able to keep more heifers than needed, this gives a good opportunity to make some sorts along the way – on fertility, mothering ability, udders, etc.

“In our registered cattle, where we have all the paperwork and records to look at, in all honesty a person shouldn’t have to go out in the corral and cull. You should be able to pick them on parentage and their mother’s production, etc. You can get a good feel for which ones will work,” says Jensen.

“One problem in our industry is that we think we’re smart enough to look at a cow and judge how good she is. A few years ago it was the big, long cows. Now we’re getting into the so-called big, easy-fleshing cattle. The main problem we have is that some of the seedstock producers are not good cattlemen. They are good salesmen. They tell us what type of cow we ought to have, because that’s the type they are raising. The seedstock industry has let us down by convincing us to make our buying decisions on what cattle look like,” he explains.

“We should be raising cattle on what they can do. You have to make sure they can walk and travel, and disposition is a factor – especially if you have a small operation and handle cattle a lot. It’s not as big a factor in a desert operation where cattle aren’t handled,” he says.

Jensen believes that culling on disposition, especially when cattle have to run in tough conditions in big open country, tends to take away some survivability traits. “There’s a strong correlation with survival and breeding. I think bulls with more vigor (and often a little wilder) will breed a few more cows. If we try to select completely for disposition, I think we’ll hurt ourselves,” Jensen says. There’s a balance of traits needed, he emphasizes, and he’s cautious about selecting for extremes.

When selecting replacement heifers, Jensen says producers should look first at profitability, with no emotional attachments. “We have to look at which cows will make money, and which ones won’t. As an industry we’ve let emotion creep in. We want cows that are prettier than those of our neighbor. My philosophy is that I’d rather be the guy who takes a check to the bank and makes the payment. If I have a three-legged, one-teated cow that’s profitable, I should keep her over a pretty cow that’s losing money,” Jensen says.

He wants cows that will do the job, and feed efficiency is hugely important. “Pretty cattle are often the least feed efficient. We need to pick cattle from a test group rather than from an emotional standpoint. We also need traits that keep calves alive. Many of these traits correlate with cattle that can survive at high elevations,” he says.

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