Is your heifer-raising operation a profitable one? How many heifers do you need to support your dairy herd’s turnover rate? Should you consider culling some of your youngstock?
Historically, dairy producers have strived to maximize the number of heifer calves born on their farms, the number of heifers kept alive, and the number of heifers with a successful breeding outcome.
After all, “too many heifers” simply meant an extra, very profitable, cash crop, says Randy Greenfield, Vita Plus dairy specialist. Producers that consistently sold extra springing heifers were likely good operators with excellent cattle.
In general, these characteristics haven’t really changed – it’s still a good thing to have low death losses and get heifers pregnant efficiently, Greenfield says in the December 2012 Vita Plus Starting Strong Calf Care E-newsletter.
What has changed is the cost to raise a heifer. In recent years, we’ve seen a significant increase in this cost without an appreciable increase in the value of a springing heifer.
Source: Vita Plus Starting Strong Calf Care E-news - December 2012