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  • Jin Gan

3 Tips To Enhance Post Weaning Heifer Nutrition

3 Tips To Enhance Post Weaning Heifer Nutrition

A strong heifer nutrition program is crucial towards optimizing animal growth an development.

Here are the following tips to get most from your heifers nutrition program:

1. Avoid post-weaning lag

  • Many calf raising programs will experience a "lag phase" when calves are moved from the hutches to group pens.

  • However, those that require calves to consume 2.5 - 3.5kg of calf starter grain mix per day before leaving the hutch experience less lag and often see better performance during the transition to groups.

  • In order to further improve performance, wait to introduce hay in the ration until the animals are in group pens for around a week.

  • Include forage in the ration at 3 % and increase in post weaning diets to about 20 - 25% by the time they have a fully developed rumen.

  • It usually takes about 4 - 6 months before the rumen becomes large enough in relation to the animal's body to handle high forage, high volume diets.

  • Make sure the heifers have sufficient access to clean and fresh water at all times.

  • Keep the group size to around 10 - 20 head per pen

2. Maximize grower phase

  • From the time heifer calves are weaned until they reach about 450 pounds (200kg), it is very possible to achieve average daily gains of 2 - 2.75 pounds (0.9 - 1.2kg) per day or more.

  • In order to make sure this performance is on track, weigh the calves as they leave individual pens and again at 150 - 160 days old.

  • This information will help measure total cost per pound or kg gain and aid in feedstuff sourcing decisions.

  • While it is tempting to include lower digestible ingredients to decrease ration cost, the potential dip it weight is not worth the cost savings.

  • It is recommended to feed high quality feedstuff to improve growth and performance of the calf at this stage.

  • Adequate growth during this phase would mean that heifers achieve height and weight goals in a proper manner and ready for breeding at the optimal time.

  • It is recommended to breed heifers at about 55% of the dam's mature bodyweight.

3. Upgrade the breeding phase

  • Breeding phase offers one more chance to positively affect the heifer development through nutrition.

  • Once the heifer is pregnant, the goal is to maintain growth of around 1.9 pounds (0.86 kg) per day or more without adding too much condition.

  • Rations should not be too high in energy as they are not yet lactating.

  • It is also important to formulate close up rations to provide sufficient levels of metabolize protein.

  • The fetus and mammary gland are developing at a very fast rate when the end of gestation nears, thus requiring increased metabolized protein and energy, while dry matter intake is declining.

  • When there is not enough metabolizable protein and energy, the animal will begin to mobilize protein and fat.

  • One of the most common mistake in this phase is not having springing heifers on the close up diet for more than 28 days before calving.

  • Hence, it si important to calculate days with calf for each animal.

  • Move heifers to the close up en before they reach 250 days with calf.

  • Lastly, remember that heifer development is essential and should be considered an opportunity.

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