The first calf heifer represents one of the most challenging animals in a cow herd.

She hasn’t reached maturity and has the most problems at calving. Cattle producers can boost reproductive success in first calf heifers by reducing calving difficulties, says Warren Rusche, SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist, during a recent iGrow Radio interview.

"There’s some research that shows that heifers that have to be assisted had a 16% lower conception rate during a 70-day breeding season versus those heifers that calved unassisted," Rusche said.

These "one and done" animals are money losers anytime, but especially in today’s economic climate.

"With today’s market conditions, we’re not talking about $150 to $200 loss in value like we might have been 15 years ago; with some of these heifers losses could be closer to $1,000. Anything we can do to increase our chances of getting that heifer bred back, we need to take a big look at doing," Rusche said.

Rusche suggests cattle producers take steps during calving to reduce problems and improve chances for successful rebreeding. He encourages stockmen to be prepared with pens and equipment ready to go a few weeks early; have a plan and don’t delay seeking help from a veterinarian if needed.

"If you talk to most veterinarians, they would say, they’d rather be called a little too soon than too late. If they are called earlier then we increase the chances to have a good outcome," Rusche said.

He urges cattle producers not to forget sanitation measures.

"Anytime we are assisting that cow, we are introducing pathogens into the reproductive track. Any kind of steps we can take, such as using OB sleeves and disinfectants and all those kinds of things are going to help us out down the road in preventing some problems in that heifer," Rusche said.

For more information on this topic, visit iGrow.org. The iGrow Radio Network and SDSU Extension bring listeners an informative show each day.