Heifer Economics


Today’s successful dairy operation recognizes that heifers are an important investment in the future. They place high value on the heifer and regard it as a managed resource, whether raised on the farm or contract grown. Unfortunately, on many farms, the dairy heifer is the most overlooked and under managed asset on the farm.

The main goal for managing replacement heifers is to freshen them between 22 and 24 months of age to reduce expenditures and to increase …

The Economics of Heifer Raising Options


As dairy farms grow and specialize in milking cows, one enterprise that may be removed from the dairy farm to allow for milk cow herd expansion is heifer raising. Custom heifer raising is increasingly common across the country and purchasing heifers may be preferred to raising heifers. However, these alternatives are not suitable for all dairy farmers. In this article, we examine heifer enterprise costs relative to using a custom raiser or purchasing heifers. We identify factors that should …

Heifer Management Blueprints: Unique Aspects of Managing Dairy Heifers in Free Stall Barns


Dairy producers and heifer growers often house dairy heifers in free-stall barns as a labor-efficient heifer management system. There are many unique aspects to consider when managing heifers with a free-stall housing system.

Please check this link first if you are interested in organic or specialty dairy production

The Benefits of Free-Stall Housing

The use of free-stall barns restricts the resting environment for heifers, allowing for easier observation, bedding, and manure management. Primarily, free-stall housing systems allow for efficient …

Heifer Management Blueprints: Heifers and Feed Bunk Management


One simple way to improve feed efficiency in heifers is to employ good bunk management. Feeding heifers to exact levels of intake and using the heifers’ inherent nature to sort feed as a guide to manage bunks has been demonstrated to improve feed efficiency. Paying proper attention to eating behavior and managing the feed bunk accordingly can increase feed efficiency and decrease feed cost.

Please check this link first if you are interested in organic or specialty dairy production

Feeding the Newborn Dairy Calf

Calf health, growth, and productivity rely heavily on nutrition and management practices. Every heifer calf born on a dairy farm represents an opportunity to maintain or increase herd size, to improve the herd genetically, or to improve economic returns to the farm. The objectives of raising the newborn calf to weaning age are optimizing growth and minimizing health problems. To accomplish these goals, it is necessary to understand the calf’s digestive system, immune system, and nutrient needs, as …

Electrolytes for Dairy Calves

En Español: Electrolitos para Terneras Lecheras


Oral rehydration solutions are used to replenish fluids and electrolytes that are lost during the course of diarrhea. Also known as electrolytes, these solutions are a convenient way to treat calves with diarrhea. There are many brands of electrolytes on the market that offer treatment for diarrhea through rehydration and electrolyte replacement. These products, however, can be variable and the right one needs to be chosen for each individual dairy.

Oral rehydration …

Heifer Growth Monitor Spreadsheet Series

The success of a heifer-rearing program can be evaluated by monitoring the height and weight of calves and heifers and comparing the results to breed averages for specific age groups. Although most dairy producers, consultants, feed industry representatives, and veterinarians can recognize under- or overconditioned animals, it is difficult to visually determine whether a heifer’s height or weight is normal for her age. The only real way to tell how heifers are growing is to weigh and measure them several …

Early Weaning Strategies



Latest estimates of average weaning age in the United States indicate that 70 percent of …

Milk Replacer Costs and Your Options


Whey Protein Price History

In recent months milk replacer costs have jumped $15 to $20 per bag, and we have entered into somewhat new territory in the economics of calf feeding systems. Since …