28 December 2001

Weigh regularly to keep growth rates on target

REGULAR weighing of animals to monitor growth rates is the key to successful heifer rearing, and can be achieved without having high labour inputs.

The main emphasis at Primrose Farm is to keep heifer rearing simple and easy to manage, says Peter Appleton. "Using self-feed clamps, straw-bedded cubicle housing and concrete yards mean feeding and scraping only take 0.5 hours a day.

"This arrangement also allows heifers to acclimatise to cubicle housing and concrete yards before joining the dairy herd."

Facilities are designed to allow one person to separate out bulling heifers for DIY AI or weighing. It only takes two people 45 minutes to weigh all 75 heifers, says Mr Appleton.

"Regular weighing is crucial to allow ration adjustments to be made to ensure heifers reach their target weight at first service. We avoid heifers going three months without weighing, as they may be off target, particularly in a block-calving herd where heifers must calve at 24 months of age.

"Weighing is carried out at least once a quarter and monthly during critical times of the year, such as the approach to breeding." &#42

Regular weighing is crucial and only takes 45 minutes to weigh all 75 heifers, says Peter Appleton.