Buying replacement females is difficult. Here are some considerations.
- Avoid buying open or just recently exposed females. They might be open for areason. Can you say trichomonaisis?
- Be cautious buying a big, fat cow as she may be one that puts her groceries on her back and not on her calf.
- Watch out for really thin cows such as body condition 4 and lower. Yes, they may be outstanding milkers, but they could have some chronic health issues. If you buy cows in the 4 BCS range your feed supply needs to be good enough to put 80 to 150 pounds on them before they calve back. An ideal BCS is in the 5’s and 6 area.
- Examine the udder and teats as if you were a dairyman.
- Cows at the local sale barn may be there for a reason. The reason is not because they are great calf raisers.
- Check the cow’s hooves and mobility. Cows sensitive to fescue toxins usually show rear toe growth. They may also be missing much of their switch.
- Associated with the above statement, know where the cows come from. Fescue country can be rough on naïve cattle that have never grabbed a bite of “hot” fescue.
- Do your homework before you raise your hand or nod at an auction. If they are selling too cheap, there may be a reason that you’ve not detected.
- If you buy, try to build uniformity into your purchase. After all the cautions above buying bred heifers may be worth looking into. Yes, heifers can have calving problems, but the wise use of calving ease bulls coupled with pelvic measuring of the heifer usually takes much of that problem away. Our Show-Me-Select heifer calving surveys show an assist rate of 6 to 10% depending on the season of the year they calve in.