Growing Heifers Well
Heifers are a significant investment for dairy businesses. By the time a heifer has calved, it is estimated the animal has cost the farm owner between $1300 and $1500. Therefore, for every 100 heifers raised on a farm, it has cost the enterprise $130,000 to $150,000.
To receive a return on this significant investment, heifers must get in calf quickly, calve without difficulty, produce well and get back in calf easily.
Benefits of growing heifers well
Heifers that reach their desired target weights at various stages of their growth will:
- Reach puberty earlier
- Get in calf quicker
- Have less calving difficulties
- Have better fertility as first calvers
- Have higher milk production over their first three lactations
- Last longer in the herd
Tools to help grow heifers well
Dairy Australia's Heifers on Target calculator is a free web-based app which will help dairy farmers check whether their heifers are likely to reach their target weights.
Dairy farmers can use the Heifers on Target calculator to:
- Check if heifers are on track to reach their target weights
- Estimate the extra production if heifers reach their target weights
- Calculate the cost of losing heifers early from a herd
- Calculate growth rates required to achieve target heifer weights
- Check whether a heifers' diet is likely to achieve the growth rates they need
- Produce a target weight chart for heifers
Heifers on Target discussion groups are held on a host farm where participants discuss the following topics with other farmers and industry experts, including:
- The importance of good heifer rearing
- Practical ways to benchmark how heifers are performing
- Learning how to use tools for growing heifers better
Dairy farmers can contact their RDP. to register their interest in attending these discussion groups or workshops
Outsourcing heifer rearing
Dairy farmers considering outsourcing heifer rearing should make sure both parties are clear about expectations and responsibilities by documenting these in a contract.
Heifer rearing sample contractPDF, 352.64 KB