AFBI Open Day highlights importance of heifer rearing for lifetime performance

AFBI Hillsborough Dairy Open Day features rearing dairy heifers to maximise lifetime performance. Pictured members of the youngstock research team (L-R Amanda Dunn, Andrew Brown, Dr Steven Morrison and Dr Austen Ashfield).
AFBI Hillsborough Dairy Open Day features rearing dairy heifers to maximise lifetime performance. Pictured members of the youngstock research team (L-R Amanda Dunn, Andrew Brown, Dr Steven Morrison and Dr Austen Ashfield).

Heifer rearing is well known to be an important part of any dairy enterprise as heifers are the future of the dairy herd.

Recent AFBI research has reinforced this view by highlighting how the treatment that heifers experience in their early life can affect their performance as mature dairy cows.

Rearing replacement heifers is an expensive part of dairy farming, with estimates ranging from 6.5 to 11.5 pence per litre, and therefore, it is important that it is done as efficiently as possible. Achieving targets such as getting heifers in calf by 15 months of age and calving at 24 months of age are critical to control rearing costs and maximise lifetime performance. In order to achieve these targets, it is essential to establish clear targets for heifer rearing and monitor performance closely. At the upcoming AFBI Hillsborough Dairy Open Day key areas in rearing replacement heifers will be discussed in detail. These include colostrum management, ill health and welfare during calf rearing, calf nutrition, target live weights, breeding, sire selection and costs of heifer rearing.

The AFBI Hillsborough Dairy Open Day is on the 16th September 2015 and is being organised in partnership with CAFRE, AgriSearch and the Ulster Grassland Society. For further details see www.afbini.go.uk.