#GrowTheHerd - Tennessee Beef Heifer Development Center to Open Soon

Program Begins in October

Administrators of the new Tennessee Beef Heifer Development Program are screening nominations for the first class of consignment heifers. They will select up to one hundred heifers to participate in the program, which begins in October. The Beef Heifer Development Program is located at the University of Tennessee, Dairy AgResearch and Education Center in Lewisburg.

The inaugural class will arrive at a new facility, built specifically to develop and breed heifers. The weaned heifers will spend eleven months at the Center, where they’ll undergo intensive management practices that will result in optimum reproductive efficiency as mature cows.

“Using the management practices that will be demonstrated through this program will help ensure that new additions to a herd are more fertile and productive, which translates to those animals staying in the herd longer and generating more profit,” says Justin Rhinehart, assistant professor, UT Department of Animal Science. Rhinehart and Kevin Thompson, director of the Middle Tennessee and Dairy AgResearch and Education Centers will serve as the program’s codirectors.

In April, the heifers will be bred using artificial insemination. Pregnant heifers will be returned to their owners in September. The decision to host an end-of-program heifer sale will depend on consignor interest and be scheduled at a later date. An annual sale will be a standard part of the program when full capacity is reached in future years.

While Tennessee’s beef cattle numbers have dropped in recent years, the state herd is currently experiencing a rebuilding phase. It is the goal of the Beef Heifer Development Program to enhance the repopulation of the state’s beef herd by providing management protocols for the most economically straining aspect of beef cattle production.

“Replacement heifer development is expensive because of the time and resources it takes until she produces a marketable calf of her own,” says Thompson. “This program will demonstrate proper replacement heifer development to beef cattle producers and increase the opportunity for custom replacement heifer development.”

The Tennessee Beef Heifer Development Program is a partnership between the UT Institute of Agriculture, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, and Tennessee Farmers Co-op. More information can be found at the Tennessee Beef Heifer Development Program.