Senwes Scenario June / July 2019 - Page 23

AGRICULTURAL THE ROLE OF YOUR VETERINARY SURGEON The role of your veterinarian and the establishment of a focused innoculation and deworming programme, cannot be over-emphasised. Heifers have to receive their most important innoculatons even before weaning. Regard innoculations as a long-term investment in your heifers and act proactively. Actions are often taken too late, which then makes it necessary to play fireman and put out fires. Look carefully for vene- real diseases. This applies particularly in respect of producers buying in replace- ment heifers from time to time. Insist on veterinary certification which confirms that the animals tested negatively for current venereal diseases. Don't forget about the annual boost- ers before the mating season. It is and remains the best investment in building resistance against disease. MANAGEMENT OF GROWTH CURVE A number of studies have been done regarding the growth rate of replacement heifers and consequent reproduction per- formance of the herd. We know that the earlier a heifer calves for the first time, the higher her productivity will be for the rest of her life. However, it is closely correlated with her feeding level, particularly during the period before her first mating season. Tests on three different breeds indicat- ed that the heat observation percentage of heifers growing at an average of 700g/ day, compared to heifers growing at an average of 350g/day, was almost 25% higher at 14 months. Weigh your heifers regularly and follow a strategic supple- ment programme in order to reach the required target weights. Take into account that environmen- tal and breed variations do occur and that any feeding programme has to be adjusted accordingly. This will prevent, inter alia, that animals are in an excessive condition. Also remember that heifers have to achieve their goal weight before the commencement of the mating sea- son - emphasis once again on proactive manageĀ­ment. We often find that replacement heifers, particularly in their first winter, receive the same lick as the cow group (basic winter sustenance lick), while her requirements are more in the direction of a production formulated lick (guard against energy levels being too high). This is one of the main reasons why heifers do not reach their required target weights at the begin- ning of the mating season. It emphasises the point of view that replacement heifers should not be incorporated with the rest of the cow group too soon. Managing them separately until after the second mating season, leaves room for better feeding managements. CONCLUSION Manage your replacement heifers as the most important asset class on your farm and regard the costs relating to an effective health and feeding programme as a long-term investment in the produc- tivity of the heifer. Do not forget the role of the bull in as far as the absence of venereal diseases, mating skills and the correct choice with regard to easy calving are concerned. Work closely with your veterinary sur- geon in establishing a health programme adjusted for your area, as well as with your animal scientist regarding a supple- mentary feeding programme and the man- agement of your feed flow programme. It will ensure the development of your ani- mals at the correct growth curves. There are no secrets or instant recipes for success. Producers who manage to replace heifers successful in their herds, are producers keeping to the basic princi- ples, who do not look for short-cuts. SENWES SCENARIO | WINTER 2019 21