This months linked article's:
The art of heifer rearing for dairy replacements is a very precise and 'attention to detail' job. Latest figures available show that the true cost of rearing a heifer is around £1300 to £1400 which will take the average dairy cow almost 1½ lactations to recover the cost. It is vitally important that throughout the rearing process, from birth to giving birth herself, the heifer is managed within a strict regime.
Over 5% of all dairy calves born in the UK each year will die, and others who have diseases in the first 3 months of life could also cause significant financial losses throughout their lives. Figures show that around 15% of heifer calves don't make their first lactation with another 19% culled during their first and 24% culled during their second lactations.
It is critical that all calves receive colostrum followed by a milk substitute or whole milk. Figures show that by feeding milk powder rather than whole milk is more cost effective, and you can also put the whole milk in the tank for a better return. There are numerous types of milk powders on the market but we concentrate on selling the VOLAC products (see fig 1). Solid food in the form of a coarse mixture or pellet should be made readily available from 2 - 3 days after birth along with ad lib water and hay or straw. When the calf is eating 1kg of dry food it can be weaned (usually 6 weeks) but not before as it is less resistant to disease (fig 2). Straw is preferred to hay due to higher fibre levels being better for the development of the rumen.
After weaning it is vitally important you maintain optimum growth rates up to twelve months of age when the mammary cells are increasing in number and size. This is easier to control whilst heifers are housed but when turned out to grass you can lose track of intakes and nutritional values. One suggestion is by control of stocking rates using small paddocks and restricting intakes so they do not get too fat. Daily livewight gains of 0.7 To 0.8 kgs per day are essential to get to the correct weight at the bulling stage (fig 3)
Age at calving is a personal choice but the best time financially is around 24 months old. If you decide on 30 months it will mean you have to have 25% more animals to maintain replacement rates, which in turn means 25% more feed is used. If you follow all the basic steps, but above all grow your heifers like beef animals, aiming for maximum growth rates, you should end up with a heifer calving at 2 years old, in good condition which will them go on to produce good lactations in the future.
GP FEEDS DRY FEEDS
WEIGHT FOR AGE (kgs)
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By Dr Shirley Heron, Ecosyl Products Ltd, Stokesley, North Yorkshire, UK.
A number of agricultural health issues over the past decade have resulted in the European agricultural industry facing huge increases in legislation. Feed additives is one area that is getting a lot of attention, the main focus being on food safety and security. This has led to the creation of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), an independent body tasked with risk assessment of food and feed.
If you haven't already booked your silage additive yet - give the office a call to discuss ECOSYL. Our sales of Ecosyl have continued to increased tenfold over the last 2 years - surely those customers who choose to use it can't be wrong. We would like you to join our increasing list of very happy and satisfied customers.
For more details ring the office on 01948 661602 or speak to your local GP agent - WELL WORTH THE CALL!
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