You are about to find that I am old fashioned and out of touch with reality.
Guess I would really need to know if you are feeding replacement heifers or show heifers.
For my replacement heifers I use a 12% feed with good old corn, oats, molases and a mineral pellet. There is, in my opinion, no better mineral out there than Vita Firm.
For my show heifers, I use cotton seed hulls, barley and a few other little secrets, but stay with 12%. I HATE every 'show feed' I have ever tried. For one thing, in the winter the fancy show feeds want to freeze up tighter than a bull's butt. My locally prepard feed is also cheaper.
When starting heifers, I give them free choice grass hay, but as I up the grain I decrease the hay. Eventually I only give them one block (flake) of hay every other day, just to keep the rumen happy.
I do believe in a set of scales. I weigh bulls every 30 days and heifers every 30 to 60 days. Some of our calves are getting pushed too hard. Please keep in mind that no matter what a calf weighs, it's joints, muscles, tendons, etc. are only as old as the calf. Putting 4 to 5 pounds a day on a young bull's joints is just asking too much......if you want him to be alive and functional as an adult. Providing an area for exercise is essential.
One of my biggest complaints about the show feeds is that so many of them contain antibiotics. DL will have to give her opinion here...I am no authority on anything. But, I do believe that constantly feeding sub therapeutic amounts of antibiotics makes the calves more open to infections. Subtherapeutic levels of antibiotics mess up the immune system and allows the bacteria the opportunity to mutate which makes the antibiotic worthless. Why treat an infection that does not exist? I'm not going to start an antibiotic now because I might pick up a bug in Louisville. Antibiotics are specific for certain bacteria, so how would I even know which antibiotic to start?
Ok all you lovers of show feeds, let me have it.
Well, I certainly got to ranting and raving and off the subject. Sorry.
I don't use a showfeed w/ antibiotics in it after I'm done w/ the decox for the starter feeds. Haven't seen too many show feeds w/ antibiotics in it.
To keep feed from setting up in the winter the feed mill needs to add some fat to their molasses & lower the solid level. This will keep it from getting like a brick.
I use Kalmbach's feed. It has been extremely consistant for me which has been a big plus. The feed mixed at our local feed mill used to vary too much to my liking. Also it contained too many fines at times. Being an old molasses salesperson, I'm very picky about my feed.
right now we are in the process of becoming a sunglo feed dealer. we will be feeding mostly sunglo's feed. and so far they are looking good. we will be feeding a 14% protein and a 4% fat calf starter/grower in a pellet, and we will probally be feeding a 13% protein and a 3% fat
We have our own feed mixed. For show heifers and young steers, we feed a 12% protein, 3.5% fat, and 16% fiber ration whose three main ingredients are cottonseed hulls, milo, and corn. I will sometimes use a finisher ration on heifers that's 12% protein, 5% fat, and 10% fiber. However, I always feed hay at night (i.e. a third of a square bale for 4 calves). I just watch them to make sure they aren't getting "too" fat which is quite subjective.
For replacement heifers, they get to live out in the pasture just like they are going to do as adults. They'll get put on wheat during the winter, but otherwise they get fed just like cows.
Malinda's comment on problems with growing them too fast is exactly right in my opinion, not to mention unprofitable.