Losses in the feedyard associated with pregnant heifers can include shrink, dystocia, retained fetal membranes, reduced dressing percentage, death loss and labor expenses.

Idaho consulting veterinarian Scott MacGregor, along with Kansas State University Extension veterinarians Thomas Faulkner and Gerald Stokka, list several possible strategies for reducing these losses.


  • If possible, buy only spayed and guaranteed open heifers
  • Do not feed heifers at all.
  • Observe heifer pens carefully, and ship heifers prior to calving.
  • Check new heifers for pregnancy. Delay inducing abortions for about 21 days to avoid disease problems due to immuno-suppressant effects of the abortifacient. This, Dr. MacGregor notes, generally has been the best option for feedyards.