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Start milk production at an earlier age

The optimum age at first calving is 22 months

Reducing the age at first calving, while still reaching rearing targets, will help to improve Lifetime Daily Yield because heifers will start producing at an earlier age. Studies carried out by the ILVO in Belgium18 showed that reducing the age at first calving from 26 to 24 months resulted in a reduction of methane emission of 3.1%. A study carried out at the Kempenshof research center19 demonstrated that heifers that calve at 22 to 24 months have optimal fertility and maximum milk yield in their first lactation, resulting in a further improvement of Lifetime Daily Yield.


Increase the potential for milk production by reducing the age at first calving

The optimum age at first calving can differ between farms. To evaluate if heifers calve at the correct age, milk production in heifers during their first lactation should be compared to milk production of the herd22 and should be 80-82% of the production of mature cows. This would however only allow an evaluation once the lactation has been completed. An alternative would be to look at peak production. Compared to mature cows, heifers have a somewhat lower peak production and a higher persistence. Peak milk production of a dairy heifer should therefore be between 70-73% of peak milk production of the mature cows in the herd.

If heifers are bred too early, there is an increased risk of dystocia, poor transition to lactation and problems with fertility. When the ratio is less than 70%, heifers are not peaking high enough compared to mature cows. This indicates problems with heifers that could very well be related to issues during the rearing period. Heifers that are bred too late tend to have poorer subsequent fertility. Peak ratios over 73% in heifers indicate problems in multipareous cows

Reduce age at first calving with an intensive calf feeding programme

The latest science about calf rearing indicates that it is possible to reduce the age at first calving to 22 months by using a calf rearing programme with elevated planes of liquid feeding. Next to reducing the age at first calving, such intensive calf reaeing programmes will alos improve milk production during the first and second lactation and reduce the involuntary culling rate19.

Calculate your profit!

See how sustainable dairy farming will result in more profitability of your farm

In contrast to common belief, it is very well possible to run a farm in a sustainable way while generating a healthy income.

Calculate your profit by influencing the 4 key indicators that help improve the Lifetime Daily Yield on your farm.

Find out more about how to improve Lifetime Daily Yield...