When determining how many groups you need, don’t overlook the needs of pre-fresh heifers.

John Smith, extension dairy specialist at Kansas State University, lists these three reasons why heifers can benefit from having their own pre-fresh group.

1. Heifers rarely develop milk fever, so they don’t have the same mineral requirements as cows in their second lactation and beyond.

2. Heifers have lower dry matter intakes. Using a separate pen allows you to deliver a more nutrient-dense diet to meet their specific needs.

3. Giving them their own group reduces social pressure. Heifers placed in a pre-fresh group with older cows may get pushed away from the bunk and decide it’s not worth trying to approach the bunk again.