News & Advice

Reaching target mating weights in grazing heifers this year

Jul 4, 2019 | Dry stock, Grazing youngstock

Ashley O’Driscoll, Veterinarian, Anexa Vets Ngaruawahia

A lot of sheep and beef farmers who I talk to tell me that they’ve never seen such a hard summer. Ever. The problem is that most of their farms aren’t recovering as well as farms down on the flats. The hills took a big hit and, in some areas, the grass actually died. Autumn has not seen a big enough rebound in grass.

So what does that mean?

All across the Waikato, people struggled to feed their stock this summer. Most dairy grazing youngstock lost condition between March and May, and are only catching up now. The next big goal for your heifer dairy grazing is to achieve mating weights by or before 1 October.

The Dairy NZ targets is for heifers to reach 60% of target mature weight by mating. This means 252 kg for a Jersey (estimated mature weight 420 kg) and 300 kg for a Kiwi Friesian (estimated mature weight 500 kg). Many dairy farmers have live weight targets based on the heifers’ genetics (through Minda). These Minda targets are more accurate, and should be used in preference.

Weigh the grazing heifers now! If they can gain 0.6 kg/day, they need to weigh 197 kg (Jersey) to 245 (Kiwi Friesian) as of the 1 July. If they are not up to weight, do the two following things: make a plan, because with supplemental feeding (maize, silage, PKE) it is possible to achieve weight gains of 0.8-1.0 kg/day. Then, call the owner of the grazing heifers. Be up front with the current situation and with you plan.

If you are concerned that the heifers may not be doing well for any reason other than feed availability (such as disease, worms, previous facial eczema, mineral deficiencies, etc), or if you have any questions about supplemental feeding, contact your local Anexa Vet. We are just as keen as you to help these grazing heifers grow and get in calf!

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