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Making the deal on five bred heifers

Going for quality rather than quantity and what the bank account allows

Five good bred heifers from River Bridge Herefords are the foundation of a growing beef herd.

There’s never a dull moment when you have animals in the winter. On January 30 the power went out for about five hours. When it came back on, we rushed to thaw out the stock waterers. Thankfully, it wasn’t too bad. The stallions’ waterer wasn’t frozen hardly at all because they hadn’t drunk the water down. We scooped out some of the water and let it run to open things up. The other two waterers were frozen to some extent. With just some hot water and a bit of tinkering we got all the waterers going, and the thirsty cows were able to get a drink.

February 5 to 9 was the Hereford bull sale week. Its nice to see the animals and to meet different breeders. We learn a lot by just watching and seeing what the animals are fetching and what kinds of feeding and breeding programs other people are using. Its important to find out if they push the feed to the bulls to try to get them to gain weight. An animal that has been pushed tends to have more problems with their feet and joints, shortening their working lifespan. We’re planning to use our coming six-year-old Black Angus bull again for our cows, but we don’t know how long he will work. We do need something much smaller for our heifers, so we’ve been looking at advertisements and going to a few sales to see what’s out there that would work for our program and for our pocketbook.

We are focusing more on quality than quantity with our cow herd. We are increasing our numbers slowly by buying a few nice bred heifers. When you go to a breeder you can look at their whole program and they can tell you about the bull they use to breed heifers. You don’t get this when you go to the stockyard. There’s no guarantee against calving problems but there are things that can be done to help prevent them, things that responsible breeders do.

We have spoken for five nice bred heifers from River Bridge Herefords, a ranch about two hours north of us. We purchased seven bred heifers from them last year and were incredibly happy with how well the heifers did. They were very motherly and they all raised nice calves.

We saw some nice bred heifers at a sale on Feb. 6 and we started dreaming about adding them to our herd. We did some mental calculations and figured that if they went for the right price we could stretch ourselves and make it work. We knew it was a long shot, but it worked, although not quite in the way we had figured. The heifers we were interested in walked through the sale ring with bids that were too low and so they “no saled.” After the sale, the owner said he could make us a good deal. He was doing calculations too and couldn’t come up with enough pasture to run these heifers himself. So, we bought the heifers at a very fair price and they were delivered to us on Feb. 10. It was very nice to see our new bred heifers step off the trailer and into our corral. We’re excited to try out our new Bannerlane girls. We should start calving around the middle of March.

About the author


Heather Eppich is a young former Idaho rancher building a new farm and family with her husband and young son, near Handel, Sask. Contact her at: [email protected]



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