10 April 1998

Heifers gain at low cost

HEIFERS managed on intensive rotational grazing from April to September averaged 0.9kg liveweight gain at minimal cost, on Virginia pastures in the US.

Jerry Swisher Jr, extension agent for Virginia Tech told the Pennsylvania grazing and forage conference that in a two-year trial 32 heifers were grazed on 10ha (25 acres) of cocksfoot, blue grass, fescues and clover pasture.

Cost of liveweight gain was 28p/kg including vaccines, fly tags, wormers, minerals, labour, fencing and property tax. Heifers were fed no silage or hay at grass, he said.

During the study heifers rotationally grazed seven paddocks of 1-2ha (2.5-5 acres). To achieve a 0.9kg a day gain it was important to move cattle on to grass at the right stage of maturity and to pull them out before swards were overgrazed to ensure good regrowth. Heifers were moved every few days.

and Mr Swisher advised against leaving animals in the same paddock for more than a week.