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Animal Health > Calves

Calf And Heifer Performance

There are several advantages in maximising heifers weights.

Several studies have been done showing that heifer weights relate to milk production.

At what size are calves too big? The Creator's plan was for calves to develop with full access to their mother's milk and "ad lib" on pasture for as long as they wanted. An inbuilt regulation mechanism was implanted into each individual telling them when to wean themselves off milk. When your calves get bigger than this benchmark, then maybe they are too big.

The onset of puberty, and the commencement of cycling is related to Live weight more than to age. Puberty occurs at 35-45% of mature weight, while conception occurs at 45-50% of mature weight. Calving problems depend more on heifer LW at mating rather than on LW at calving. Dairy cows will attain their mature LW by the fourth lactation and the objective of rearing heifers is to produce 80-85% of mature LW by first calving. Frame size is determined early, so there is doubtful merit in the practice of feeding older heifers to make up for poor growth earlier in life.

Calf And Heifer Performance

Poorly, grown heifers do not last long in the milking herd. They are more likely to be culled for poor milk production or poor fertility during their first lactation. Total herd costs can be greatly increased by this high wastage.

Post weaning heifers must receive feed with a minimum energy level of 11MJME/kg.

A Southland pasture trial in March 2007 saw Pasture Plus Formula 2 produced grass with 11.6MJME/kg vs Urea 9.7. Calves feed on Urea treated pasture will always struggling to achieve optimum weights.

Extracts from article by John Moran. Department of Primary Industries 2005