Dairy farmers could significantly reduce heifer replacement rearing costs by changing their system, according to DairyCo.
To help farmers adopt the best rearing practices for their farm, DairyCo has developed a Heifer Rearing Cost Calculator CD, into which farmers can enter their own figures and assess potential outcomes.
Farmers can compare six rearing systems, ranging from extensive rearing, calving at 33 months to a high input system, calving at 22 months, as well as contract rearing.
The best system will vary depending on individual facilities, says Heather Wildman, DairyCo extension officer. “The two main ways to cut rearing costs are to use lower inputs and calve later or increase inputs and calve earlier.”
Ultimately, good heifer rearing comes down to achieving the correct type of growth in dairy heifers from birth to point of service, according to Warwick Bastard of Model Cow Nutrition.
“This is the factor which impacts most on rearing costs,” he says. “Ensuring calves suckle as soon as possible to benefit from colostrum, introducing water as well as milk and feeding a good quality calf feed will make all the difference.”