Your Heifers are your future – here is a simple guideline to growing good stock.
Liam Bawden Bvsc
To grow heifers to target weight all of the above need to be managed proactively. Quality and quantity of feed is by far the most important factor in growing good stock but if the other three are ignored your growth rates can suffer. Remember that well grown heifers produce more milk, compete better in the herd and are more likely to get back in calf and stay in the herd.
With summer around the corner it is safe to assume we will get some dry weather and with that, low quality pasture. This is a reminder of where we often drop the ball with our heifers in Northland. We can expect ryegrass in dry summer conditions to have an ME value of 8-9MJ/kg and protein levels as low as 9%. Trials carried out by beef and lamb in Northland have shown that a small amount of supplement (in this case a PKE/maize mix) made a significant difference to growth rates.
Below is a response to feeding a PKE/Kibbled maize blend (70:30)
This trial started in February, we often find that pasture quality has declined early in December as pasture goes to seed, this is when supplementation may need to start. Remember we are talking small amounts (1kgDM/day).
Below is a reminder of young stock feed requirements to reach different growth rates.
If you monitor feed quality and quantity along with heifer weights and supplement to fill the gaps while maintaining a regular drench regime reaching target weights will be easily achieved. Get behind and it is a real challenge to catch up.