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Developing Virginia Premium Assured Heifers a Good Option

Livestock Update, May 2004

John B. Hall, Extension Animal Scientist, Beef, VA Tech

Demand for replacement beef heifers has been strong this spring especially Virginia Premium Assured Heifers' (VAPAH). Although prices have been exceptionally high this spring, demand and prices should continue to remain strong as the Eastern US beef industry begins to expand.

Virginia Premium Assured Heifers' offer an advantage over other replacement beef heifers as they have been developed under research-based heifer management strategies. These heifers meet requirements and recommendations in four areas health, reproductive soundness, conformation, and genetics. Requirements are certified by a third party. Results from buyer surveys indicate that VA Premium Assured Heifers have less difficulty calving and are more fertile than average replacement heifers.

The VAPAH program assists producers with development and marketing of Premium Assured Heifers. Development of VAPAH is not difficult if producers begin with good quality commercial heifers. Producers work with Extension professional, veterinarians and local VAPAH committee to select and develop heifers that meet requirements for the program. It is easiest to begin heifers on a VAPAH development program at weaning. This ensures that procedures such as vaccinations and reproductive soundness exams can be worked into the routine cattle working schedules of the producer. Fall born heifers should be started on the program late this spring or early this summer. Spring born heifers should begin the program at weaning this fall.

Beef producers participating in the VAPAH program are not obligated to market heifers in VAPAH sales, but they may choose to market a portion of their heifers. Producers interested in developing or purchasing VA Premium Assured Heifers' should contact their local Extension office or Dr. John B. Hall, Extension Beef Specialist, at 540-231-9153 or

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