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Calf And Heifer Performance

There are several advantages in maximising heifers weights.

Several studies have been done showing that heifer weights relate to milk production.

  • Increasing calving liveweights for Fresians from 360 to 460 kg increased milk production during the first lactation by ~30kgMS (Freeman 1993). This production benefit extended into the second and third lactation ~63kgMS/yr. Obviously you must be able to feed them enough energy to get these benefits.

At what size are calves too big? A calves biological makeup is designed to develop with full access to their mother's milk and "ad lib" on pasture for as long as they wanted. An inbuilt regulation mechanism exists in each individual telling them when to wean themselves off milk. When your calves get bigger than this benchmark, then maybe they are too big.

The onset of puberty, and the commencement of cycling is related to Live weight more than to age. Puberty occurs at 35-45% of mature weight, while conception occurs at 45-50% of mature weight. Calving problems depend more on heifer LW at mating rather than on LW at calving. Dairy cows will attain their mature LW by the fourth lactation and the objective of rearing heifers is to produce 80-85% of mature LW by first calving. Frame size is determined early, so there is doubtful merit in the practice of feeding older heifers to make up for poor growth earlier in life.

  • Heifers calving 100kg heavier can increase their peak production by ~0.38kgMS/day in their first lactation.
  • Fresian heifers mated below 260kg had 34% conception to first insemination compared to 58% for heifers mated weighing 300kg or more. Last year one of our Drummond clients heifers were mated at 400kg with only 2-3 out of 200 being empty at first lactation.
  • Of the smaller heifers below 260kg 24% had difficulty calving. This declined to 8% in heifers mated at 260-280kg and was lowest in 340-360kg heifers.

Poorly, grown heifers do not last long in the milking herd. They are more likely to be culled for poor milk production or poor fertility during their first lactation. Total herd costs can be greatly increased by this high wastage.
Post weaning heifers must receive feed with a minimum energy level of 11MJME/kg.
A Southland pasture trial in March 2007 saw Pasture Plus Formula 2 produced grass with 11.6MJME/kg vs Urea 9.7. Calves feed on Urea treated pasture will always struggling to achieve optimum weights.
Extracts from article by John Moran. Department of Primary Industries 2005

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Calf Supreme Testimonial

Alan Darlington Livestock Limited
56 Walsh Rd
RD10 Hamilton
Ph 07) 8298959 Fax 07) 8298958
Mobile – 0272582200


McDonald Agri-Fert

Doing that extra time can make a difference when rearing livestock – this last season I’ve seen this with my own eyes, when we introduced Bio-Help Calf Supreme, marketed by McDonald Agri-Fert to the Waikato.
My concern was calf weaning weights were too low and especially when calves were required to move off farms up to 25% were behind minimum weights. If you carry this through to a rising 2yr.Incalf Heifer they cannot perform to their requirements. In most cases, especially sharemilkers having their calves exit farms early November, there is not enough time for the last 25% of calves born to reach minimum target weights. Bio-Help Calf Supreme can help you to achieve this.
Clients this last season sent their heifer Calves out to grazing, with Friesian Heifer calves obtaining weights up to 157kgs. Ave. by Mid-December, with Cross Bred Heifer Calves weighing in at 135kgs average and Jersey calves up to 120kgs average.
Experts tell us the cost from a calf born and to get it to an Incalf Heifer is between $850 - $900.
We also introduced this product to clients who were rearing Friesian Bull calves. Results were staggering. At the first Dairy Beef Sale in Frankton, Hamilton, on the 5th October the top end of bulls weighed in at 130kgs and sold at $465.00 each. The second cut weighed in at 110kgs for $438.00 each.
For the last 18yrs as a Livestock agent and for the last 2years as an Independent Livestock agent, the benefits of using this product have been enormous. We had 30+ clients on the programme and already we have more enquiries for this coming season 2007-2008.
Each farmer ran the course for six weeks which cost approximately $1.31 per calf per week and if you look at what’s available this is extremely competitive, if not one of the best prices on the market today.
I look forward to your reply and am confident with the management of McDonald Agri-Fert in their trust in me to sell this exciting product.
Alan Darlington