Breeding and raising replacement dairy heifers
Heifers are the cows of tomorrow, and it is important to invest in their future through appropriate rearing, selection and breeding practices.
At Lactanet, we have the expertise to help you raise strong, well developed and healthy dairy heifers, and informed insights to help you determine the best time to breed them in order to maximize the return on your livestock investment.
Neonatal care and environment of dairy heifers
Studies show a clear link between heifer growth in early life and their future production performance. It all starts with a good quantity of quality colostrum, as soon as possible after birth. Our advisors can guide you on the best practices for colostrum management and assessment.
The environment also plays an important role in ensuring the health of newborns, and it is therefore essential to offer them clean housing, with fresh bedding, in a well-ventilated area away from drafts, and with a small source of heat for a few hours after birth. We can assess different environmental parameters for your heifers such as space, air speed and ammonia levels, and temperature fluctuations, and explore suitable solutions with you that meet your needs and the needs of your heifers.
Heifer growth monitoring and best time for breeding
Growth monitoring allows you to reach your age and weight goals at first calving, to maximize the production of your future dairy cows. We can help you to collect measurement data from your heifers and provide you with growth monitoring reports. If you prefer, you can also enter your measurements yourself, directly in our online Growth monitoring application.
Thanks to the growth model integrated into this tool, and into the software used by our field staff, it’s possible to predict the best time to breed your heifers from a single measurement.
Calculating rearing costs and needs
Raising a heifer is expensive, especially if you raise more than you actually need. On the other hand, not being able to meet your quota because replacement cows are not available represents a significant shortfall. Since each farm is different, and each farm has different needs and goals, a rearing strategy will never be a one-size-fits-all solution. The strategy has to match the herd’s breeding objectives, meet the market demand and suit the replacement needs of the herd as well.
A Lactanet advisor can work with you to develop a customized replacement strategy based on your herd’s culling profile and age at first calving. They can also evaluate your rearing costs and help you determine the best course of action to help you achieve your specific goals.
Assessing dairy heifer feed rations
Based on the analysis of growth data in your herd, your Lactanet advisor will evaluate heifer feed rations and review your rearing practices to recommend a course of action, if changes are necessary.
Well fed, heifers reach the right weight at the right age and their lifetime production improves. Providing your heifers with the right ration, no more, no less, means that you provide them with the optimal feed at an optimal cost. A quick validation with an advisor will help you make sure you are on the right track.