Why weight is key when weaning replacement heifers
Replacement heifer calves weaned at a heavier weight tend to maintain this advantage, according to new Teagasc research.
This is the conclusion of Emer Kennedy at Teagasc Moorepark who carried out a trial (see Table below) with 48 mixed-breed replacement heifer calves in 2014.
Heifers were fed up to six litres of milk per day, ad lib meals, water and hay while indoors.
Heifers were turned out to grass at five weeks of age and were weaned gradually over a week at different weights.
Previous research shows that heavier replacement heifers are more likely to become pregnant early in the breeding season and produce more milk over their first three lactations.
This research shows one way to achieve such heavier weights for breeding.
According to Emer: “Heifers weaned at 100kg maintained at least a 15kg liveweight advantage throughout the first summer at grass.
This weight gap was still there when they were bred the following spring”.