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Farm Management Tips - February 2017

Replacement Heifer Weight

Breeding season is less than 3 months away on many farms. Ensure maiden heifers are hitting target weights now to ensure a successful breeding period. For heifers to be 330-360 Kgs by breeding time they should be averaging 280-300 Kgs at the moment. There is still time to correct heifers below target. These light heifers should be the first to be released to grass and should be supplemented with a replacement heifer ration until they reach target.


  • Wash & disinfect calving pens and calf pens prior to the calving season
  • Remove the calf from dam immediately to avoid disease transmission
  • For colostrum feeding, follow the 3-2-1 rule – the calf should receive at least 3 litres of colostrum, in the first 2 hours after birth from the first milking of the cow
  • The calf’s navel should be sprayed with iodine immediately after calving to reduce the risk of joint ill

Cow nutrition in early lactation

Once the cow calves and begins to produce milk, her energy demand increases dramatically from her demand pre-calving. Poor post calving nutrition leads to excessive weight loss with many side effects such as ketosis, fatty liver disease and fertility problems, including significantly lower conception rates.

It is best to get cows to grass as soon as possible after calving, but where this is not possible the feeding of concentrates is essential.  Below is a guide of the recommended feeding levels for a cow with a potential yield of 6000 litres indoors on grass silage. The crude protein content of the ration should be between 18-22% depending on protein content of the silage.


Once cows have access to grass, meal levels can be reduced only if the cow is in adequate body condition. Cows out by day and on silage by night, feed at least 5 – 6 Kgs of ration at 14% - 16% crude protein.  Once cows go on grass full time, eating 14 – 16 Kgs of grass dry matter, it still makes economic sense to feed at least 3.5 – 4.0 Kgs of ration.