Iowa Beef Center Introduces New Heifer Development Program

Iowa’s new heifer development program, Iowa Cowmaker Elite, is officially underway, according to program coordinator Patrick Wall, ISU Extension and Outreach beef specialist. Wall said the intent of the long-term project is to help Iowa’s beef producers select, manage and develop high quality heifers year after year.

“Information from Iowa Cowmaker Elite females will be compiled and used for constant improvement in Iowa’s cowherd,” he said. “These females will be selected for longevity and ability to thrive in Iowa’s various environments, and in turn, will generate more desirable feeder cattle backed with reliable herd health, performance and carcass information.”

The Iowa Cowmaker Elite program is a cooperative effort of the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association and the Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University, with the end goal of aiding Iowa’s cattle producers in building more profitable and sustainable cow herds, regardless of operation size or system.

“The educational component of this project is two-fold: help producers decide which heifers are the right ones to keep and breed, and then help them find the right bulls to use on those females,” Wall said. “We want producers to set goals for their operation, then we’ll teach them the visual indicators, the genetics, even which columns on the paper that will most likely get them there.”

Heifers enrolled in the program may be purchased or home-raised and developed at any cooperating central location or on-farm, he said. Entry fees for the Iowa Cowmaker Elite program include an annual membership fee of $25 per owner and a $5 per head fee for heifer enrollment. In addition, the owner is responsible for the cost of the program tag for females who graduate from the program.

Details of the program including standards, health protocols, list of centralized development locations and contact information is on the Iowa Cowmaker Elite web page. An informational video on the program itself and the enrollment process also is available on that page.

Enrollment of heifer calves is a simple process.

  •     Visit the Iowa Cowmaker Elite page at www.iowabeefcenter.org/iowacowmaker.html
  •     Download the Data Entry file.
  •     Print the program requirements.
  •     Share the files with your local veterinarian to ensure the herd health protocols are met.
  •     Fill in the columns chute-side as the heifers cross the scale.
  •     Email the Data Entry file to Wall at patwall@iastate.edu

Producers will receive a detailed analysis of their heifers compared with others in the program at each stage in the process: weaning, yearling, breeding and pregnancy check.

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