An Easier Way to Calculate the Cost of Replacement Heifers


It’s fall again. That means three things: preg-checking, weaning and deciding on replacement heifers.

Deciding on replacement heifer numbers should be a process that’s repeated yearly. The overarching goal of an operation should have a bearing on your decision (that is, are you hoping for herd expansion in the long run? Or are you maintaining, or even decreasing herd size?).

In order to help with determining the costs of keeping replacements, Kathy Larson, beef economist with the Western Beef Development Centre, has created a Replacement Heifer Calculator. Inspired by farmers looking for something a little simpler, the calculator enables you to input numbers without having to go through the whole cost of production analysis.Screen Shot of the Replacement Heifer Calculator, available online.

The calculator is available through the WBDC website (there’s a link on the right side of the page, which automatically downloads the calculator as an Excel document) or you can  download it here.

If you do decide to keep replacements, it’s time to consider how to overwinter those animals. The WBDC recently published a fact sheet looking at the impact of development systems on overwintering heifers. Can you have the same success through extensive grazing systems, as your intensive grazing counterparts?

To gain insight on the calculator and the study, I spoke to Kathy Larson. That interview, included above, can also be found here.

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