Do you have a routine heifer reproduction/synchronization program?
Once you get these heifers pregnant, don’t forget them again. Properly balanced rations, vaccination protocols and pre-fresh transition programs will all benefit the soon-to-be-fresh heifer that enters your milking herd.
In this health column last month, Mel Wenger provided an excellent review of heifer nutrition and transition pen management. Pick up that issue again.
In summary, don’t forget that age at first calving is a number with a lot of lag time. We can start doing a great job growing and breeding heifers today, but our AFC won’t change for a long time. Select monitors that are timely and relevant to access your program. It starts within the first hours of life and gets back to the basics. Excellent colostrum and health management, optimal milk-fed and transition/pre-breeding growth, attention to reproduction and pre-calving management are the key areas to develop protocols and monitors to get that heifer putting milk in the tank.
Mark J. Thomas is a veterinarian and partner in Countryside Veterinary Clinic, LLP and Dairy Health & Management Services, LLC in Lowville, N.Y.