Controlling costs is just as important as ensuring the quality and quantity of heifers entering the dairy herd. Understanding a herd’s unique heifer needs and availability, based on key herd metrics, can give you insight into potential limitations or excess availability of heifers, says Robert Goodling, Jr., extension associate with Penn State Extension.

In the November 2012 Penn State Dairy Digest, Goodling explains some factors that should be considered when examining heifer inventories:

Internal herd growth. “Knowing how many replacements you need annually to achieve your dairy’s goals (maintain herd size, expand, or downsize) is a key starting point to managing heifer inventories,” he says.

Monitoring and evaluating heifers. At some point there may be enough heifers on hand to easily handle the needs of the milking operation, so the question arises: Who should leave and when?

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Source: November 2012 Penn State Dairy Digest