Growing good young stock is like putting money in the bank – the more you put in, the more you get out. How much you get out depends on the amount of care and feeding offered during the whole rearing period from birth through to mating, weaning and calving. Replacement heifers are the most valuable assets on the farm, representing the best genetic material and carrying the future production potential of your herd. A heifer should reach 85% of her mature weight by first calving and this requires an average growth rate of 0.6kg every day for the total rearing period or 20 kg per month. This can be achieved through:
– Good calf rearing where close attention is paid to nutrition, shelter and disease control.
– Minimising weaning setbacks by ensuring a fully functional rumen at weaning evidenced by a deep body and a pear shaped abdomen.
– Worm Control – regular treatment with an effective anthelmintic combined with the use of “safe” pasture from weaning until first winter is the key.
– Trace element and minerals. Ensure that the young stock is not limited in their supply of calcium, phosphorous, copper, cobalt, selenium or iodine.
– Disease control. Vaccinations are available to prevent a range of diseases such as Blackleg (and other Clostridial diseases), Salmonellosis, Leptospirosis, Bovine Viral Diarrhoea, Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis and Johnes Disease. Consult with your animal health advisor to establish the most appropriate programmes for your farm and reap the reward of big healthy heifers entering your herd to produce and reproduce for a lifetime.