We focus here on Heifer Rearing, but our same principles of attention to detail using quality ingredients in fixed formulations rations hold for all classes of youngstock be they beef or dairy. 

Success needs a plan, we want to work with our customers to ensure we get the best from their animals.


The 3 pillars of heifer rearing are –

Body Weight  - Diet - Health.

Measuring and Recording these parameters is vital to achieving success.

Success is strong heifers calving at 22-24 months @ 85-90% mature weight post calving and yielding at least 80% of cows.

Stage 1 = Birth to Weaning

Each extra 100grams of average daily weight gain in this period results in 225litres of milk in the first lactation!  Therefore milk powder is actually very cheap.

After good colostrum intakes calves should soon be onto at least 2.5 litres of replacer @ 150 gram/litre twice daily for Holstein calves.  Higher intakes are possible and give increased growth but make can lead to weaning checks.  Milk replacer should be 23% protein and 17%fat.  Cheap MR give lower feed conversion and more scours at higher feeding rates so are not cheap in the long run.

Calf starter and water should be available from 2 days.  Calves should be eating 1.5kg starter by weaning to maintain growth.  Clean fresh food and water daily will encourage intakes and improve weaning performance.  Calves eat more starter when they can see other calves eating it.

Chopped roughage has been shown to aid starter intake but be careful calves do not gorge on it.  However this is unlikely to happen to well fed calves – usually this is a result of hunger.

Reduce to once daily feeding at 56 days and wean at 63 days provided starter intake is adequate. 
Target 80kg @ 63 days.

Hygiene in stage 1 is vital.  Early removal from a clean calving box to a clean calf pen will prevent scours.  Avoid damp and draughts to prevent pneumonia, keeping the floor dry is important.  Remember these calves are cold below 15 degrees so provide extra bedding and increase MR in cold weather.

Stage 2 – Growing to Conception

Target growth @ 900gram/day for Holsteins in this period.  Weighing animals is vital.  Balanced nutrition will ensure the correct proportions of muscle and bone.

Post weaned animals will still have a small capacity for forage so need a mainly concentrate ration but the quantity of forage can be increased along with the growing animals ability to digest it.

Avoid group changes/diet changes/stress around the time of service.

Dropping underperforming heifers back a group can lead to compensatory catch up growth at other times.

Stage 3 In Calf Heifer

Pregnant animals are much more likely to store energy as fat and so overfeeding at this time will damage future production ability.  This makes it impossible to feed smaller pregnant heifers more to catch them up.  Early growth is vital.

However 750grams of growth is required to ensure adequate size at calving, as pregnancy progresses increasingly this will be growth of the calf.

Continued weight monitoring will help ensure over feeding will not lead to fresh cow health issues in the first lactation.


Successful replacement rearing needs a plan.  Below is an example of the plan on one of our customers farms.  These are tailored to the mature cow size on the farm and the calf rearing facilities.  Please contact us if your herd needs a heifer rearing plan to improve growth in youngstock and ultimately performance of first lactation animals.

Heifer Rearing Plan