Kit West Discovers Niche Market by Developing Replacement Heifers | TheFencePost.com

Kit West Discovers Niche Market by Developing Replacement Heifers

Gayle Smith
Gering, Neb.

When Kit West read that the average beef herd size in the U.S. was only 40 head, he saw an opportunity. “Producers with ranches that small only need to keep a few replacement heifers each year,” he says. “Where they need so few, it is not very economical to grow their own. That is where I come in.”

West and his family started a company called Heifer.pro, where ranchers can come and purchase quality replacement heifers in any number from one on up, or they can bring heifers to West, and he will grow and breed them at his facility.

West is a third-generation rancher who lives on the family ranch near Chugwater, Wyo. He became interested in growing replacement heifers while seeking ways to expand the family’s ranching operation. “We are in a transitional phase right now,” he explains. “My dad and one of his brothers want to retire from the operation. We are trying to keep our operation stable and expand it, and still provide them with enough money to retire.”

West said they actually started raising and purchasing replacement heifers to grow and sell a few years ago, and since they have done quite well with those, have decided to expand the business. West started a website last summer, http://www.heifer.pro, where he not only advertises what he has for sale, but also allows other ranchers to advertise their heifers for sale at no cost to them. “I advertise the website in most of the major agriculture newspapers, so it provides ranchers who list heifers for sale on the site free advertising,” he explains. “It is my way of helping the industry increase their cow numbers, and a way for me to market the heifers I have for sale.”

West said ultimately, his goal is to build a small social network of like-minded producers who can utilize the heifers he produces. “Right now, most of the ranchers I work with are here in Wyoming, but I am starting to get some interest from producers in other states like Montana and Kansas.”

The family cattle operation is primarily comprised of Red Angus and Black Angus cattle. “I hope to expand the number of bred heifers I have available, and be able to get into more breeds,” he explains. “I look for lots of 20-25 heifers, grow them, [artificially inseminate] them to a quality bull of their own breed, and sell them as bred heifers,” he says.

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West has a local artificial insemination (AI) technician, Kim Cullen, who pelvic measures and evaluates the heifers when he purchases them. “Anything that will not make a quality cow is turned into a feeder calf. Kim does the heat detection and AI’s them,” he explains. “If there are 100 head of heifers, she can synchronize them and have them bred up within a couple days. About 60-65 percent of them will be bred, while the rest will be bred using cleanup bulls.”

Selecting replacements

When selecting heifers, West says he looks for healthy heifers in body condition scores of five to seven. “I don’t like to purchase heifers with a body condition score over eight. They are just too fat, and when you put them on grass, they won’t gain like they should,” he says. “The heifers with a body condition score of five to seven perform the best. I want to see them thrive on grass,” he adds.

He also looks for larger-framed heifers with very feministic characteristics, a nice udder and a good disposition. West said he aims to grow heifers that will weigh around 925-975 lbs. in October after they are bred, and mature at about 1,100 lbs.

Most of the heifers he sells go to smaller operations with 200 head or less, but he can accommodate larger ranching operations. “If a customer needs to purchase some heifers, I don’t require them to take a set amount. We have corrals we can set up out in the pasture, and they can just go out and pick what they want. If they only need a few replacement heifers, then they can just purchase a few. We can work with producers who have small or large operations.”

Grows heifers, too

In addition to raising and selling replacement heifers, Kit says he also grows replacements for ranchers. He asks most of the larger ranch operations to bring a minimum of 25 head. “If I have several groups with smaller numbers, I would have to work something out as far as cleanup bulls if they are different breeds. We use Red Angus and Black Angus low birth weight bulls for cleanup.”

Kit is also stringent on what he will accept for the heifer development program. “I evaluate the heifers to make sure they are good quality and will perform well,” he explains. “They have to be some pretty high-quality heifers to be in the program.”

For the heifers that are in the heifer development program, Kit manages disease by making sure the heifers have been bangs vaccinated. The heifers are also tested for persistent infection Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD-PI) when they are pregnancy tested.

The heifers are pregnancy tested by blood, because it eliminates the false positives and is more precise. “We have a laboratory in Laramie we use for pregnancy testing,” West says. “For $20, we can also have DNA samples taken to make sure the heifers have no defects in their genetic makeup.”

The heifers can be bred to calve anytime from January through April. If the heifers are bred for May calving or later, Kit said they will have to be bred using natural service. “The heifers will be on grass by then, so it is much tougher to get them in to AI,” he says. The natural service bulls are leased from Cullen, and are based on Genex semen.

West says ranchers can take possession of the heifers at any point. “Some may want to take their heifers home sooner if they have earlier calving,” he explains. On the other hand, he also takes in cattle for producers, and can put the heifers on grass. “In May, I can put these heifers on grass and run them the rest of the summer,” he says. “I can deliver them back to the producer in mid-October.”

Editor’s Note: To learn more details about West’s program, visit http://heifer.pro. He can also be reached at (307) 331-0357.

When Kit West read that the average beef herd size in the U.S. was only 40 head, he saw an opportunity. “Producers with ranches that small only need to keep a few replacement heifers each year,” he says. “Where they need so few, it is not very economical to grow their own. That is where I come in.”

West and his family started a company called Heifer.pro, where ranchers can come and purchase quality replacement heifers in any number from one on up, or they can bring heifers to West, and he will grow and breed them at his facility.

West is a third-generation rancher who lives on the family ranch near Chugwater, Wyo. He became interested in growing replacement heifers while seeking ways to expand the family’s ranching operation. “We are in a transitional phase right now,” he explains. “My dad and one of his brothers want to retire from the operation. We are trying to keep our operation stable and expand it, and still provide them with enough money to retire.”

West said they actually started raising and purchasing replacement heifers to grow and sell a few years ago, and since they have done quite well with those, have decided to expand the business. West started a website last summer, http://www.heifer.pro, where he not only advertises what he has for sale, but also allows other ranchers to advertise their heifers for sale at no cost to them. “I advertise the website in most of the major agriculture newspapers, so it provides ranchers who list heifers for sale on the site free advertising,” he explains. “It is my way of helping the industry increase their cow numbers, and a way for me to market the heifers I have for sale.”

West said ultimately, his goal is to build a small social network of like-minded producers who can utilize the heifers he produces. “Right now, most of the ranchers I work with are here in Wyoming, but I am starting to get some interest from producers in other states like Montana and Kansas.”

The family cattle operation is primarily comprised of Red Angus and Black Angus cattle. “I hope to expand the number of bred heifers I have available, and be able to get into more breeds,” he explains. “I look for lots of 20-25 heifers, grow them, [artificially inseminate] them to a quality bull of their own breed, and sell them as bred heifers,” he says.

West has a local artificial insemination (AI) technician, Kim Cullen, who pelvic measures and evaluates the heifers when he purchases them. “Anything that will not make a quality cow is turned into a feeder calf. Kim does the heat detection and AI’s them,” he explains. “If there are 100 head of heifers, she can synchronize them and have them bred up within a couple days. About 60-65 percent of them will be bred, while the rest will be bred using cleanup bulls.”

Selecting replacements

When selecting heifers, West says he looks for healthy heifers in body condition scores of five to seven. “I don’t like to purchase heifers with a body condition score over eight. They are just too fat, and when you put them on grass, they won’t gain like they should,” he says. “The heifers with a body condition score of five to seven perform the best. I want to see them thrive on grass,” he adds.

He also looks for larger-framed heifers with very feministic characteristics, a nice udder and a good disposition. West said he aims to grow heifers that will weigh around 925-975 lbs. in October after they are bred, and mature at about 1,100 lbs.

Most of the heifers he sells go to smaller operations with 200 head or less, but he can accommodate larger ranching operations. “If a customer needs to purchase some heifers, I don’t require them to take a set amount. We have corrals we can set up out in the pasture, and they can just go out and pick what they want. If they only need a few replacement heifers, then they can just purchase a few. We can work with producers who have small or large operations.”

Grows heifers, too

In addition to raising and selling replacement heifers, Kit says he also grows replacements for ranchers. He asks most of the larger ranch operations to bring a minimum of 25 head. “If I have several groups with smaller numbers, I would have to work something out as far as cleanup bulls if they are different breeds. We use Red Angus and Black Angus low birth weight bulls for cleanup.”

Kit is also stringent on what he will accept for the heifer development program. “I evaluate the heifers to make sure they are good quality and will perform well,” he explains. “They have to be some pretty high-quality heifers to be in the program.”

For the heifers that are in the heifer development program, Kit manages disease by making sure the heifers have been bangs vaccinated. The heifers are also tested for persistent infection Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD-PI) when they are pregnancy tested.

The heifers are pregnancy tested by blood, because it eliminates the false positives and is more precise. “We have a laboratory in Laramie we use for pregnancy testing,” West says. “For $20, we can also have DNA samples taken to make sure the heifers have no defects in their genetic makeup.”

The heifers can be bred to calve anytime from January through April. If the heifers are bred for May calving or later, Kit said they will have to be bred using natural service. “The heifers will be on grass by then, so it is much tougher to get them in to AI,” he says. The natural service bulls are leased from Cullen, and are based on Genex semen.

West says ranchers can take possession of the heifers at any point. “Some may want to take their heifers home sooner if they have earlier calving,” he explains. On the other hand, he also takes in cattle for producers, and can put the heifers on grass. “In May, I can put these heifers on grass and run them the rest of the summer,” he says. “I can deliver them back to the producer in mid-October.”

Editor’s Note: To learn more details about West’s program, visit http://heifer.pro. He can also be reached at (307) 331-0357.

When Kit West read that the average beef herd size in the U.S. was only 40 head, he saw an opportunity. “Producers with ranches that small only need to keep a few replacement heifers each year,” he says. “Where they need so few, it is not very economical to grow their own. That is where I come in.”

West and his family started a company called Heifer.pro, where ranchers can come and purchase quality replacement heifers in any number from one on up, or they can bring heifers to West, and he will grow and breed them at his facility.

West is a third-generation rancher who lives on the family ranch near Chugwater, Wyo. He became interested in growing replacement heifers while seeking ways to expand the family’s ranching operation. “We are in a transitional phase right now,” he explains. “My dad and one of his brothers want to retire from the operation. We are trying to keep our operation stable and expand it, and still provide them with enough money to retire.”

West said they actually started raising and purchasing replacement heifers to grow and sell a few years ago, and since they have done quite well with those, have decided to expand the business. West started a website last summer, http://www.heifer.pro, where he not only advertises what he has for sale, but also allows other ranchers to advertise their heifers for sale at no cost to them. “I advertise the website in most of the major agriculture newspapers, so it provides ranchers who list heifers for sale on the site free advertising,” he explains. “It is my way of helping the industry increase their cow numbers, and a way for me to market the heifers I have for sale.”

West said ultimately, his goal is to build a small social network of like-minded producers who can utilize the heifers he produces. “Right now, most of the ranchers I work with are here in Wyoming, but I am starting to get some interest from producers in other states like Montana and Kansas.”

The family cattle operation is primarily comprised of Red Angus and Black Angus cattle. “I hope to expand the number of bred heifers I have available, and be able to get into more breeds,” he explains. “I look for lots of 20-25 heifers, grow them, [artificially inseminate] them to a quality bull of their own breed, and sell them as bred heifers,” he says.

West has a local artificial insemination (AI) technician, Kim Cullen, who pelvic measures and evaluates the heifers when he purchases them. “Anything that will not make a quality cow is turned into a feeder calf. Kim does the heat detection and AI’s them,” he explains. “If there are 100 head of heifers, she can synchronize them and have them bred up within a couple days. About 60-65 percent of them will be bred, while the rest will be bred using cleanup bulls.”

Selecting replacements

When selecting heifers, West says he looks for healthy heifers in body condition scores of five to seven. “I don’t like to purchase heifers with a body condition score over eight. They are just too fat, and when you put them on grass, they won’t gain like they should,” he says. “The heifers with a body condition score of five to seven perform the best. I want to see them thrive on grass,” he adds.

He also looks for larger-framed heifers with very feministic characteristics, a nice udder and a good disposition. West said he aims to grow heifers that will weigh around 925-975 lbs. in October after they are bred, and mature at about 1,100 lbs.

Most of the heifers he sells go to smaller operations with 200 head or less, but he can accommodate larger ranching operations. “If a customer needs to purchase some heifers, I don’t require them to take a set amount. We have corrals we can set up out in the pasture, and they can just go out and pick what they want. If they only need a few replacement heifers, then they can just purchase a few. We can work with producers who have small or large operations.”

Grows heifers, too

In addition to raising and selling replacement heifers, Kit says he also grows replacements for ranchers. He asks most of the larger ranch operations to bring a minimum of 25 head. “If I have several groups with smaller numbers, I would have to work something out as far as cleanup bulls if they are different breeds. We use Red Angus and Black Angus low birth weight bulls for cleanup.”

Kit is also stringent on what he will accept for the heifer development program. “I evaluate the heifers to make sure they are good quality and will perform well,” he explains. “They have to be some pretty high-quality heifers to be in the program.”

For the heifers that are in the heifer development program, Kit manages disease by making sure the heifers have been bangs vaccinated. The heifers are also tested for persistent infection Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD-PI) when they are pregnancy tested.

The heifers are pregnancy tested by blood, because it eliminates the false positives and is more precise. “We have a laboratory in Laramie we use for pregnancy testing,” West says. “For $20, we can also have DNA samples taken to make sure the heifers have no defects in their genetic makeup.”

The heifers can be bred to calve anytime from January through April. If the heifers are bred for May calving or later, Kit said they will have to be bred using natural service. “The heifers will be on grass by then, so it is much tougher to get them in to AI,” he says. The natural service bulls are leased from Cullen, and are based on Genex semen.

West says ranchers can take possession of the heifers at any point. “Some may want to take their heifers home sooner if they have earlier calving,” he explains. On the other hand, he also takes in cattle for producers, and can put the heifers on grass. “In May, I can put these heifers on grass and run them the rest of the summer,” he says. “I can deliver them back to the producer in mid-October.”

Editor’s Note: To learn more details about West’s program, visit http://heifer.pro. He can also be reached at (307) 331-0357.

When Kit West read that the average beef herd size in the U.S. was only 40 head, he saw an opportunity. “Producers with ranches that small only need to keep a few replacement heifers each year,” he says. “Where they need so few, it is not very economical to grow their own. That is where I come in.”

West and his family started a company called Heifer.pro, where ranchers can come and purchase quality replacement heifers in any number from one on up, or they can bring heifers to West, and he will grow and breed them at his facility.

West is a third-generation rancher who lives on the family ranch near Chugwater, Wyo. He became interested in growing replacement heifers while seeking ways to expand the family’s ranching operation. “We are in a transitional phase right now,” he explains. “My dad and one of his brothers want to retire from the operation. We are trying to keep our operation stable and expand it, and still provide them with enough money to retire.”

West said they actually started raising and purchasing replacement heifers to grow and sell a few years ago, and since they have done quite well with those, have decided to expand the business. West started a website last summer, http://www.heifer.pro, where he not only advertises what he has for sale, but also allows other ranchers to advertise their heifers for sale at no cost to them. “I advertise the website in most of the major agriculture newspapers, so it provides ranchers who list heifers for sale on the site free advertising,” he explains. “It is my way of helping the industry increase their cow numbers, and a way for me to market the heifers I have for sale.”

West said ultimately, his goal is to build a small social network of like-minded producers who can utilize the heifers he produces. “Right now, most of the ranchers I work with are here in Wyoming, but I am starting to get some interest from producers in other states like Montana and Kansas.”

The family cattle operation is primarily comprised of Red Angus and Black Angus cattle. “I hope to expand the number of bred heifers I have available, and be able to get into more breeds,” he explains. “I look for lots of 20-25 heifers, grow them, [artificially inseminate] them to a quality bull of their own breed, and sell them as bred heifers,” he says.

West has a local artificial insemination (AI) technician, Kim Cullen, who pelvic measures and evaluates the heifers when he purchases them. “Anything that will not make a quality cow is turned into a feeder calf. Kim does the heat detection and AI’s them,” he explains. “If there are 100 head of heifers, she can synchronize them and have them bred up within a couple days. About 60-65 percent of them will be bred, while the rest will be bred using cleanup bulls.”

Selecting replacements

When selecting heifers, West says he looks for healthy heifers in body condition scores of five to seven. “I don’t like to purchase heifers with a body condition score over eight. They are just too fat, and when you put them on grass, they won’t gain like they should,” he says. “The heifers with a body condition score of five to seven perform the best. I want to see them thrive on grass,” he adds.

He also looks for larger-framed heifers with very feministic characteristics, a nice udder and a good disposition. West said he aims to grow heifers that will weigh around 925-975 lbs. in October after they are bred, and mature at about 1,100 lbs.

Most of the heifers he sells go to smaller operations with 200 head or less, but he can accommodate larger ranching operations. “If a customer needs to purchase some heifers, I don’t require them to take a set amount. We have corrals we can set up out in the pasture, and they can just go out and pick what they want. If they only need a few replacement heifers, then they can just purchase a few. We can work with producers who have small or large operations.”

Grows heifers, too

In addition to raising and selling replacement heifers, Kit says he also grows replacements for ranchers. He asks most of the larger ranch operations to bring a minimum of 25 head. “If I have several groups with smaller numbers, I would have to work something out as far as cleanup bulls if they are different breeds. We use Red Angus and Black Angus low birth weight bulls for cleanup.”

Kit is also stringent on what he will accept for the heifer development program. “I evaluate the heifers to make sure they are good quality and will perform well,” he explains. “They have to be some pretty high-quality heifers to be in the program.”

For the heifers that are in the heifer development program, Kit manages disease by making sure the heifers have been bangs vaccinated. The heifers are also tested for persistent infection Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD-PI) when they are pregnancy tested.

The heifers are pregnancy tested by blood, because it eliminates the false positives and is more precise. “We have a laboratory in Laramie we use for pregnancy testing,” West says. “For $20, we can also have DNA samples taken to make sure the heifers have no defects in their genetic makeup.”

The heifers can be bred to calve anytime from January through April. If the heifers are bred for May calving or later, Kit said they will have to be bred using natural service. “The heifers will be on grass by then, so it is much tougher to get them in to AI,” he says. The natural service bulls are leased from Cullen, and are based on Genex semen.

West says ranchers can take possession of the heifers at any point. “Some may want to take their heifers home sooner if they have earlier calving,” he explains. On the other hand, he also takes in cattle for producers, and can put the heifers on grass. “In May, I can put these heifers on grass and run them the rest of the summer,” he says. “I can deliver them back to the producer in mid-October.”

Editor’s Note: To learn more details about West’s program, visit http://heifer.pro. He can also be reached at (307) 331-0357.