Set limits on gains before puberty

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How fast can you grow heifers before puberty without hurting first-lactation milk yield?

The limit may be 1.8 pounds per day, according to an analysis by researchers at Penn State University.

The researchers analyzed eight studies involving Holstein heifers that assessed the effect of average daily gain before puberty on first-lactation milk production. Only studies published within the past 15 years were eligible for the analysis.

The results of the analysis, reported in the November Journal of Dairy Science, indicate that maximum first-lactation milk yield can be achieved when Holstein heifers weighing between 330 and 706 pounds gain no more than 1.8 pounds per day. Growth rates beyond that hurt future milk yield.

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