dairy heifers© Tim Scrivener

A worrying number of heifers are failing to make it to their second lactation. 

Vet Ginny Sherwin from Nottingham University studied milk records of 18,000 heifers across 437 herds as part of her PhD at Nottingham University last year.

The study found one-third of heifers failed to make it past 100 days in milk.

See also: Tips to ensure heifers are on track to calve at 24 months

Although the reasons are unclear, Dr Sherwin said it clearly shows they’ve been “broken”.

“There’s no other reason to cull an animal within 100-DIM. I think we get focused on 0-24 months and then we just put them in with cows and it’s a phenomenally big challenge [for them].”

Previous studies have pointed to poor fertility as one of the main causes for culling cows in their first lactation. But Dr Sherwin said more research was desperately needed to get to the bottom of the causes, with little data currently available.