This Tip of the Week has been brought to you by DCHA and sponsored by Fermenten, brought to you by Arm & Hammer Animal Nutrition.
average daily gain (ADG) and cost per pound of gain are more sensitive
metrics than cost per day, and more top managers are turning to them to
assess heifer program performance. When used in conjunction with health
records and visual observation, these assessments offer a better means
to determine which animals have the potential to bring the most
productivity and profitability.
concept of managing for average daily gain and feed efficiency is a
model that has long been used by the beef feedlot industry, which is
skilled at separating feed cost from fixed costs like yardage (or
housing) and labor. This perspective enables managers to increase income
by increasing lean gain.
know which animals meet your goals for optimum growth, track heifers by
cohort group. This enables you to account for seasonality of
performance and helps fine-tune your management response to rearing
Here are a few guidelines to see how your heifers stack up:
the first 70 days of age, a reasonable ADG should be 1.7 to 2 pounds
per day. This will be driven by colostrum management and the feeding
program, as well as weather and animal comfort.
- By six months of age, heifers should average at least 2 pounds of gain per day.
target for first breeding should be based on size rather than age.
Depending on breed and individual herd dynamics, heifers should be about
51 inches at the hip (for Holsteins) and about 55% of their dam's
mature body weight at breeding, and about 85% of their dam's mature body
weight at calving.
reach these ADG goals, proper protein nutrition is critical. Feed a
rumen fermentation enhancer in heifer rations to provide essential
nutrients that rumen microbes use to make more microbial protein for
greater volumetric growth. The goal should be for heifers to look and
perform like athletes, with strong muscle and bones and little fat.
To learn more about helping your heifers reach their growth potential, visit AHDairy.com