Most dairy farms would agree with the statement that heifer reproduction typically outperforms the lactating herd. But information presented at the 2012 Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council Annual Meeting, indicates that this likely is not the case on most farms.
"Producers who think their heifer reproduction programs are on track may want to look again," says John Lee, managing veterinarian with Pfizer Animal Health.
Conception rate and percentage of heifers pregnant within 3 services are metrics commonly used by producers to track performance of heifer reproduction. "Unfortunately, time is the missing component from both of these heifer reproductive measurements," says Lee. The length of time it takes for a heifer to conceive needs to be accounted for.
To improve heifer reproduction, Lee offers the following 5 steps:
- Move heifers to the breeding pen on time.
- Use prostaglandin on the date of the AI pen move.
- Make sure all heifers are inseminated shortly after an AI pen move.
- Perform routine pregnancy checks.
- Act on any heifer that comes up open at pregnancy check; either re-enrolling them into a breeding program or selling them.
Producers may see significant profit potential if the age at first calving can be lowered.
 2012 Dairy Cattle Reproduction Council Annual Meeting, Heifer reproduction monitoring and performance: Five easy steps to better heifer reproduction, John Lee, DVM, managing veterinarian, dairy technical services, Pfizer Animal Health, Bakersfield, CA.
Source: Purina Animal Nutrition HerdSmart e-Newsletter, Jan. 31, 2013