The beef industry in Florida is a significant economic sector, with a total of about 950,000 head of cattle. Every year, beef cattle producers are faced with the decision of how to replace unproductive females within their herd. Some producers are able to develop their own replacement heifers—female cattle that have not yet had their first calf—but for many small producers (less than 100 animals) this is not a viable option. Kalyn Waters, the director of UF/IFAS Extension in Holmes County, and Cliff Lamb, professor of animal sciences and assistant director of the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC), identified the need for a program to help ranchers get heifers ready to breed. Developed in 2016, the UF/IFAS Florida Heifer Development Program lets smaller producers nominate their heifers for development at the NFREC where, through artificial insemination, the heifers will be impregnated early in the breeding season. This will allow the calves to be born early, weigh more when they arrive in market, and thus fetch a higher price. It's just one of the many ways UF/IFAS Extension is helping businesses, communities and homeowners in Holmes County find solutions to improve their lives.
Young heifers at the UF/IFAS Range Cattle Research and Education Center. UF/IFAS File Photo