Over the last number of years there has been a shift from getting heifers calving down from three years of age to around two years. It is something that has been widely practised in the dairy sector and is now also being implemented in suckler herds.
But what are the benefits of calving down a year earlier? Most are obvious: the output from the cow is increased over her life time; less stock to carry for a year; faster genetic improvements within the herd.
So early calving down is all well and good in theory. But one of the major factors that is going to make this achievable is making sure heifers are at a specific weight.
At a minimum, they should have reached 60 per cent of their mature weight when it comes to breeding.
This is usually the case when they hit the 15-month mark.
Breeding heifers early who are too small is only going to cause you problems at calving time. This is something which no farmer wants, and it may also lead to a poor output when it comes to milk and fertility.
With breeding already kicking off on a lot of farms, we have complied a list of target breeding weights of different cattle breeds.
Below is a list where you can find out whether your heifers are on target at 15 months to get them calving down at two years of age:
Dairy: Holstein, 350kgs; New Zealand / British Friesian, 330kgs; Norwegian Red X Holstein, 350kgs; Jersey X, 300kgs; Jersey, 240kgs.
Beef: Limousin X, 420kgs; Simmental X, 400kgs; Charolais X, 430kgs; Hereford X, 370kgs; Angus X, 370kgs; other breeds, 390-450kgs.
Herdwatch has recently revamped its breeding section making it easier for members to get the most out the app this breeding season.
On Herdwatch farmers can record Heat Observations or Serves on the app. The app will then remind farmers by text when the cows are due to repeat in three weeks' time.
As well as this with updated breeding views farmers can quickly track cows who have not shown any signs of heat since calving, see a list of cows served and how many serves they’ve gotten as well as a due to calf list so your never out of the loop.
Get a taste for Herdwatch today and get started on the free basic plan which is free forever just type Herdwatch into the app/play store.