24 July 1998

Mainly grass for heifers

HEIFERS calving at two years old to suit the block calving system at Ashley Grange Farm, Market Drayton, rely mainly on grass from about three months of age.

This allows heifers to be reared for less than £270 a head, including calf transfer value, concentrates, forage, bedding and vet costs.

Ian Platt said young heifers were turned out to graze small paddocks in early April and concentrates quickly cut from 1kg of home-mix to none, if conditions were good.

This spring they were fed no concentrates in early April, but as weather worsened a little home-mix was fed in late April and May. In the past, heifers had grazed clean pasture but after some lungworm in milking and in-calf heifers, he preferred to bring the young heifers into cow grazing to challenge them with lungworm. He also vaccinated against husk before heifers started their second grazing system and had stopped using a bolus wormer in favour of Cydectin for the first grazing season.

"Heifer calves graze until Novem-ber, when they are housed in cubicles and fed silage. Before bulling in March they are fed 1kg of concentrate to help conception rates," said Mr Platt. He aimed for heifers to weigh over 300kg at bulling.