Spring’s arrival is still several weeks away, which means heifers, especially younger ones, still need extra energy in the diet to maintain target growth rates, such as those recommended in the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association (DCHA) Gold Standards.
Central Minnesota heifer grower Roger Imdieke, and a DCHA founding member, uses ground corn, depending upon price, to increase dietary energy levels in winter. Waste from sugar beet plants and sweet corn silage also are available options for keeping energy levels up on Imdieke’s operation.
Easing up on diet energy levels for older heifers begins when temperatures start to rise (usually toward the end of February). However, it is not until early spring before Imdieke’s nutritionist backs down ration energy levels for younger heifers.
“Usually by April, (we back off) the energy a little bit or (heifers put on) a little too much condition,” he says.