While much of the country is still feeling the effects of the drought, it’s still important to keep young heifers nutritionally sound in a cost-effective manner.

Jennifer Saueressig PhD, ruminant nutritionist at Overton Veterinary Services, Lexington, Neb., says replacement heifers should gain about 1.5 pounds per day to get them where they need to be. “Research has shown we can get them to a little less than the 55 percent of mature body weight to reach puberty and still be all right,” she says. “We have to think about the cost of production and how to cost-effectively get pounds of gain onto these heifers.”

Saueressig says if producers have extra corn stalks, they can turn heifers onto them and add some protein. “They are still growing and stalks don’t have enough protein,” she explains. “Supplementing can usually keep costs lower.”

She adds that producers can also look at using lower quality forages heifers need to be drylotted. “Lower quality forage mixed with a protein like distiller’s, which has come down again in price, can start to be included and is more cost-effective.”

In Saueressig’s area of central Nebraska, there are a lot of piles of corn silage, most from dryland corn. “It may not have the most energy but is probably a more cost-effective way to get some energy and meet fiber requirements, and it adds moisture to diet so they will consume it a little bit better.”