Well grown heifers
- Have improved milk production
Heifers reaching target liveweight will produce 8.5kgMS more in their first lactation than if they are 10% below target liveweight.
- Have greater lifetime productivity
Heifers reaching target liveweight will have 5% better 6wk in-calf rates and 1.5% lower empty rates. This equates to $35 economic benefit per heifer compared to heifers 10% below target liveweight.
- Have reduced replacement costs
Using InCalf data for a mob of 50 heifers, the potential gain to move them from 10% under target liveweight to achieving targets is $3875 at a $5/kgMS milk price.
This section highlights some of the key aspects to rearing heifers from weaning through to first calving. It will help you choose a heifer replacement strategy, set relevant growth targets, monitor performance and manage relationships.
Liveweight at first mating and calving will have an impact on the reproductive performance and milk production potential of heifers.
Heifer feeding and nutrition
Feeding and nutrition is vital for the growth of young heifers. Well-grown heifers will produce more milk, compete better with mature cows and survive longer in the herd.
Partial budgeting analysis indicates that the decision to graze heifers on or off the milking platform is highly dependent on estimated milk price, grazing costs and a variety of other considerations.
Heifer Focus Farms
Focus farms along with a number of host farms have demonstrated solutions to increase the number of heifers that achieve liveweight targets and improve the national 6-week in-calf rate.
Heifer weights and weighing
Heifer growth should be measured by liveweight, the only objective measure of dairy heifer performance. Weight performance is also useful to inform working relationships between stock owners and the heifer grazier.
Requirements for grazing heifers
If you are considering grazing dairy heifers it is important to assess whether your farm system can grow heifers to meet their target liveweights.