Weight at first breeding remains one of the best indicators of the long-term productivity of replacement heifers, says Montana State University Extension beef cattle specialist John Paterson. A heifer should be about 65 percent of her mature body weight by her first breeding
. Feeding a replacement heifer to the optimal weight, he says, will help her meet the four primary goals in developing heifers:

* conceive early in the breeding season,
* calve early in the calving season,
* produce adequate milk for the first calf,
* rebreed and recalve every 365 days.

Research indicates that inadequate nutrition during a heifer's first winter can result in increased age at puberty, lower conception rates in later years, increased calving difficulty in later years, increased calf sickness, lighter weaning weights of calves and later rebreeding.