How is heifer nutrition changing?

Traditionally, the periods of a dairy cow’s life where she is not producing (dry cow phase and heifer phase) have been largely ignored. These animals were adding nothing to the bottom line and so their nutrition was not extensively considered. It has recently been established, however, that the correct feeding and nutrition of heifers can have significant impacts on later production and yield. The timing for this nutritional intervention is critical, as any gaps in heifer nutrition during this time cannot be compensated for.

Why is heifer development critical?

The heifer phase of a dairy cow‘s life is crucial to its long-term performance. These few months represent only a fraction of the cow’s life, but this phase is extremely critical to its overall performance and longevity. According to Soberon et al. 2012; lifetime performances are influenced by early life development which can be manipulated via heifer nutrition. This manipulation should start immediately after birth and continue at least for 5 weeks. Bone growth and muscle growth is maximal from 0 – 6 months. (Roblein, 1986). [Slide 11].

In the world of raising heifers, the key takeaway is that an investment early in the life of the animal development will reap rewards later. Research shows that the more gain heifer calves can put on before weaning, the better their milk production will be during their first lactation. Recent studies found that for every kilogram of preweaning ADG, calves produced 1551 kg more milk during 1st lactation (Soberon et al. 2012). In addition, the performance of heifers have a strong impact on age at calving, with heavier heifers being able to be bred and calve sooner than lighter heifers, shortening the time until a return on investment can be realized. (OCLP Hte Normandie (Survey on 43898 Prim’Holstein cows and 30813 Normand cows)) [Slides 12 & 13]

The cost of raising heifers is high; it is the best interest of the producer to shorten the time that a heifer is non-productive. Shortening this non-productive time from 26 months to 24 months has been shown to offer significant savings to the producer. One study noted a savings of $105/heifer and $3,164.47 for a 100 cow dairy farm with 30% renewal. (COGEDIS, France 2011) [Slide 15]

Main goals for producers to achieve heavier heifers in a shorter amount of time should be to limit and prevent digestive troubles, optimize consumption, foster rumen development, optimize growth, and prepare animals for early weaning.

Nursy, the feeding program you need to increase your heifer yield

The Nursy program offers a complete feeding system that includes milk replacers, starters & dietetic supplements, all designed to work in concert to help achieve the goal of healthy heifers that turn into productive cows. The different components of the Nursy program include value-added ingredients to help producers maximize their investment in their heifers, so they can realize a better and faster return on the dollars they spend.

Additives such as unique sweeteners, acidifiers, probiotics, and the addition of vegetal extracts set the Nursy program apart and make this offering more effective than others in the market. Sweeteners and flavours are key to ensuring adequate intake and getting young animals on solid feed, which is key to meeting daily gain goals. Acidifiers in Nursy milk replacer products help to reduce pathogenic bacteria population, which saves time and money for the producer. It has been demonstrated in field trials, that the inclusion of a specific combination of plant extracts contribute to increase ADG and to reduce oocystes excretion in young animals. In older heifers these plant extracts help to optimize energy extraction from the diet and limit energy losses, which equates to rumen efficiency. Yeast cultures included in Nursy products have been shown to increase feed consumption, increase ADG, and limit incidences of diarrheas. [Info from slides 45, 57, 61]

The Nursy program is all inclusive and provides options that can be adjusted and adapted to the grower’s goals and preferences. This allows each grower to receive a tailor-made approach to their heifer raising program.

How the Nursy program helps producers meet their goals for heifers

The Nursy program is designed to help growers meet and exceed their goals. One main goal that the Nursy program addresses is limiting and preventing digestive troubles by offering multiple options for milk replacers and starters. Another key goal is to optimize consumption of both liquid and solid feed by using additives such as unique sweeteners and vegetal extracts. It is extremely important to have a functioning and healthy rumen at weaning to help absorb nutrients; the Nursy program promotes rumen development by encouraging early adoption of starter feed, avoiding forage before early weaning, and limiting milk consumption. The Nursy program is based on research and data that shows that optimizing the growth of heifers is key to later success, and that gaps in nutrition which slow this development cannot be compensated for later in life. With this mind, the Nursy program includes multiple components that are proven to increase feed consumption and ADG to shorten the non-productive span for heifers. Finally, the Nursy program prepares animals for weaning and sets heifers up to maximize their full potential for their entire productive life.

Any question about our Nursy offer?