Rayner Reckons

Jul 09

Managing your first calf heifers

Posted on Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Last weekend I was working with a producer, pregnancy testing this years maiden heifers, as well as a large group of first calf heifers.  Unfortunately a large number of the first calf heifers were found to be not in calf. 

First calf heifers, especially those which calve as 2 year olds, can be very difficult to rejoin successfully, and often have lower pregnancy rates when compared against older cows.  

There are a couple of reasons for this.  Cattle in a Fat Score (FS) range of 3 - 4 should take around 50 days to commence cycling after calving.  Younger cows, may take up to 20 days more than this.  If the Fat Score of those cattle is lower than FS 3, the time taken to return to oestrus is increased.  

In a controlled joining program, usually a 12 week program, these delays often see many females failing to go into calf.

I reckon that the first calf heifers are the group of cattle that deserve the most love and attention in a breeding herd.  

Close attention during calving needs to be complemented with access to good quality nutrition.  If pasture quality and quantity are limited, then supplementary feeding is essential.

I also reckon its a good idea to keep the first calf heifers in a separate group to the older cows from calving to joining. This way you can manage their needs more closely and get them ready for joining more efficiently.

Pregnancy testing is a key tool in managing your breeding females.  Finding the non pregnant females early can allow you a chance to either remove those females from the operation, or make some decisions about rejoining.

If you do decide to sell those non pregnant females, consider ways which allows you to capture a higher value.  

After the pregnancy testing on the weekend, I was able to sit down with the producer and we worked out a plan which covered both managing the non pregnant females and some strategies for the pregnant cows and this years group of maiden heifers.  I was really happy to be able to help with that planning and I definitely reckon its one of the most rewarding parts of my business.  

If you do want to discuss some options or put a plan in place for your first calf heifers, feel free to get in touch with me and we can set something in place.



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