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The effect of early life events on lactation performance in dairy heifers

Nutrition and management of pre-weaned calves matters! Studies show early life health and nutrition are associated with improved lactation performance later in life.

Dr. Gemma Chuck BVetMed PhD

We cannot push calves to grow too much in the isometric growth phase. The more calves grow in the pre-wean phase, the better. This is the message from Dr. Chuck in her first presentation to the NZARN.

As part of her PhD thesis, data was collected from 1300 dairy heifers across 9 south west Victorian dairy farms. After these animals were reared to maturity, lactation performance outcomes (milk volume, kg protein and kg fat yield) were tracked up to 100-day and 250-day performance.

This long term study found that the age at calving and pre-pubertal average daily gain had the largest impacts on lactation performance. These studies further support the importance of nutrition and management of the pre-weaned calf.

NZARN members a full copy of the presentation is available below if you are logged in.

Non-members looking for more information are encouraged to use our ‘contact a nutritionist’ form and ‘member directory’ to find a member who can help them answer their questions.

If you are a Rural Professional interested in joining the NZARN please see our ‘membership’ section.

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