Measure for success

If your heifers calve between 23 and 25 months then they will go on to yield more over their first five years of life compared to older calving animals, simply because they achieve more lactations per unit of time as well as having higher survival rates according to a Royal Veterinary College study of 500 animals.

Do You Want to Increase Herd Yield?

To calve at 24 months, heifers must be in calf by 15 months. Since maiden heifers require on average 1.4 services per conception, first breeding must start at 13 to 14 months.

Actions to take:

  1. Set growth rate targets: ensure rapid growth in early life – they will never catch up. Aim for up to 0.85kg per day during the first three months of life, and thereafter 0.7kg per day up to first breeding when they must be 55% to 60% of mature body weight.
  2. Measure calf growth: if you don’t, you can’t monitor. Measure heifers at least twice during the rearing period: at birth, when it’s relatively easy to put a new born calf on a weigh scale, at weaning and again at a time when animals are being handled, for example vaccination or worming. Use weigh scales or a weigh band.