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Improving reproductive performance

A heifer management program is crucial for effective performance of northern breeding herds. Planning from pre-joining to calving is essential for overall reproductive management.

Why is pre-joining heifer management so important?

  • Heifers are the foundation of the future breeding herd.
  • Young breeders aged two to four years old constitute more than 40% of a typical breeder herd.
  • First-calf heifers take longer to get back in calf than adult breeders. At 80 days post-calving, 60–70% will have cycled compared to 80–89% in cows.
  • Calf loss between pregnancy diagnosis and weaning is highest in maiden heifers.
  • Improving reproductive performance in young breeders will significantly improve the productivity of the whole breeder herd.

Lifetime productivity

The key to improving lifetime productivity of all breeders is to ensure they get the best start possible when they first enter the breeder herd. This depends on several critical factors:

  • choosing the best time for your herd to calve
  • ensuring replacement heifers are all cycling when the bulls go in
  • restricting the joining period for heifers so they don’t calve out of season
  • implementation of strategies to minimise calf loss.

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