Farm Talk


August 20, 2013

Sunflower Supreme meetings set through fall

Parsons, Kansas — The most recent US Cattle inventory report indicates that the US beef herd is the smallest it has been since 1952. If and when beef herd expansion occurs those cattlemen who can provide high quality replacement females have the potential to access another revenue stream.

A new program developed by K-State Research and Extension in conjunction with the Kansas Department of Agriculture should help Kansas producers be at the fore front of the beef herd re-population effort. The Sunflower Supreme heifer development program is focused on implementing selection criteria and management practices that increase the long term value of heifers selected as replacement females. The program is modeled after the Missouri “Show Me Select Program” and will provide the option for those heifers which successfully meet all of the program guidelines to be marketed through a special sale.  

The intent of the Sunflower Supreme program is to provide knowledge, guidance and tools to assist beef producers in improving reproductive performance of replacement heifers and in turn increase cow longevity within a herd.

These goals will be reached by the adoption of effective health protocols, successfully utilizing available technologies and using available genetic predictors. The main areas of emphasis of the program will be on decreasing dystocia issues, improving herd health, and using techniques and selection criteria that improve conception rates.

Expected Progency Differences (EPD’s) are the most reliable tool to minimize calving difficulty. All breed associations report EPD’s for birth weight (BW) and several report EPD’s for calving ease direct (CED) as well. If available the calving ease direct EPD is a better predictor of dystocia problems in first calf heifers because in addition to sire differences in birth weight this EPD is calculated accounting for differences in calving score as well. The CED EPD is reported as a percentage of unassisted births and therefore producers should select sires with a higher CED value.

The Sunflower Supreme program is designed to encourage producers to work with their veterinarian in developing a whole herd health management plan, with emphasis on respiratory and reproductive health. The vaccination guidelines involved in the program can be adapted to any operation with guidance from their veterinarian about type and booster requirements of each vaccine.

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