If you are short on forage, it is worth to consider limit feeding heifers. This will involve feeding a higher energy diet but limiting the total amount of feed offered, thus controlling average daily gain.
Here some advantages of limit feeding program:
Reduce feed cost for rearing heifers.
Increased feed efficiency.
Less manure produced.
Good opportunity to include by products as well as lower quality fees in the ration.
Have the ability to select feedstuffs based on cost, availability and nutrient composition.
The most common sources of protein and energy are corn and soybean meal. Due to wide variety of feed ingredients available for ration formulation, no standard set of recommendation exist at the moment.
Here are some basic guidelines when considering precision feeding dairy heifers:
It is important to balance rations in order to meet NRC requirements for the heifers.
It is encouraged to feed the heifers same time every day.
Group the animals based on size.
Allow ample feed bunk space - approximately 14 to 24 inches for heifers ranging from 4 months old to pre calving
Avoid using straw or shavings for bedding.
When transitioning from free choice forage to limit feeding program, it is crucial to do it gradually.
Stop limit feeding and start allow heifers to adapt to pre fresh ration 30 to 45 days before calving to reduce any adverse effects on the calf.