Ranching 101: What is a heifer?


Nice Angus-Cross Heifer Herd

Because I write cowboy romance, I thought it would be interesting if I began a series of posts on the different aspects of cattle ranching.  Today we’ll learn what a heifer is and how she fits into a traditional cow/calf ranching operation.

A heifer is a young cow (or female calf) that hasn’t had her first baby. She’s usually bred when she’s between a year and a year and a half old. Raising and breeding your own heifers is the best way to build a cow/calf operation on a working cattle ranch.

Because a heifer has a smaller pelvis, it’s important to breed her the first time to a heifer bull.  This is a bull who throws small calves which will pass through the heifer’s birth canal with fewer complications.  Ranchers can buy a heifer bull based on his hereditary statistics or on his proven ability to throw little babies.

Another strategy ranchers can use to improve their odds of delivering healthy calves from their first time mommas, is to move them from the pasture to an area where they can be closely monitored just before birthing time.  If complications arise, the rancher can help pull the calf, or the vet can be called.

Once a heifer has become pregnant and delivered a baby, she’s called a cow.



Posted March 10, 2016 by janalynknight in Uncategorized / 0 Comments


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