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Replacement stock are the foundation of the future herd, and achieving targets such as 2 year old calving is vital, yet only 38% of heifers meet this target in the Lakelands area. The reason why this topic was chosen was that average

  • Average age at 1st calving is 27.5 months
  • National average is 3.3 lactations
  • Only 50% of heifers calving at 30 months reach 3 + lactations
  • Scientific research proves that 2 year old is the optimal calving age for improved herd performance

The Joint Programme team recently completed a series of on-farm events with the objective of improving heifer management for client farms. The main objectives the day were:

  • Highlight importance of 2 year old calving
  • Greater lifetime production
  • Lower rearing costs
  • More milking cows on the same land area

Five host farms kindly agreed to these events, which were attended by 350 farmers in total.
The main technical topics covered were:

  • Financial loss as a consequence of not calving at 2 years old.
  • Targets weights of different stages of heifer rearing process
  • Achieving target live weight gain to hit the various weight targets
  • If heifers are falling behind on weight targets, what can we do to get them back on track.

The Joint Programme team also weighed young stock on the day which generated good debate on target weights and how best to achieve them. It was clear from the questions and discussion with attendees that the main areas for focus are:

  • Ensuring that the calf gets the best start in life
  • Good worming programme over the 1st summer at grass
  • Ensuring good infrastructure to allow heifer calves / replacements a change of grass twice weekly in order to achieve the desired weight gain of 0.7kg/ day

Details and content presented at these events is available below:

  • Four Boards for Heifer Rearing Events (PDF)