Weaning to mating

The period of life from weaning until mating is critical to get right, if a replacement heifer's maximum lifetime production is to be achieved. It also can be a time where these valuable replacement animals get neglected or under-prioritised.

By far the most important aspect of this period of life is nutrition - Quantity AND Quality! Young stock require high quality feed to grow to their full potential. Clearly, this is not the class of stock to be cleaning up after others, rather they should be getting the best feed available.

After nutrition, the next most important barrier to optimum growth rate is parasitism. Where possible, try to reduce exposure naturally with grazing management, but in the majority of cases a routine drenching program from weaning until mating is required.  Selection of drench product is very important so get some advice from your veterinarian.

Ensure that vaccinations are carried out in a timely fashion. In most cases the minimum requirements are clostridial (5 in 1 or 10 in 1) and leptospirosis, but also worth discussing is use of Bovine Virus Diarrhoea (BVD) vaccine.  Maintain good records to ensure boosters are given when required and animals gain the full benefits.

Monitor trace element status and take supplementary action if required.

Consider facial eczema (FE) and consult with your vet to work out the most practical, efficient and cost-effective FE prevention strategy for you.

Regular weighing is the only failsafe way to monitor progress and get an early indication of things going wrong. The industry targets of 20% mature liveweight at three months old (weaning), 30% at six months, 40% at nine months, and 60% at 15 months (mating), are figures most farmers are aware of, but how these figures are interpreted can vary. There is a significant difference between a group of heifers that average these targets and a group in which these targets are the minimum weights! As a rule, try to have 85% of a group being at or above target at each weighing.