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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Dairy Forage Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #366662

Research Project: Forage Characteristics and Utilization that Improve Efficiency of Growth, Performance, Nutrient Use, and Environmental Impacts of Dairy Production

Location: Dairy Forage Research

Title: Strategies to improve the efficiency and profitability of heifer raising

item ERICKSON, PETER - University Of New Hampshire
item ANDERSON, JILL - South Dakota State University
item Kalscheur, Kenneth
item LASCANO, GUSTAVO - Clemson University
item AKINS, MATT - University Of Wisconsin
item HEINRICHS, ARLYN - Pennsylvania State University

Submitted to: Journal of Dairy Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/18/2019
Publication Date: 3/5/2020
Citation: Erickson, P.S., Anderson, J.L., Kalscheur, K., Lascano, G.J., Akins, M.S., Heinrichs, A.J. 2020. Strategies to improve the efficiency and profitability of heifer raising. Journal of Dairy Science. 103(6):5700-5708.

Interpretive Summary: Regional Research project NC-2042 has had an active objective in youngstock rearing. Areas of investigation include precision feeding, high-fiber forages, alternative feedstuffs, and feed additives to maintain performance and potentially reduce rearing costs. Work by NC-2042 collaborators continues to yield information that can be applied on dairy farms to improve calf nutrition and management, and in turn, strengthen the profitability and sustainability of the business. This research will be of interest to dairy heifer growers, dairy industry personnel, nutritionists, and researchers interested in utilizing feeding strategies that will increase efficiency and profitability of raising dairy heifers.

Technical Abstract: Regional Research Project NC-2042 has a devoted objective to calf and heifer nutrition. Within this objective, feeding the post-weaned heifer is considered a major priority to improve the profitability and sustainability of US dairy farms. Research has focused on precision feeding heifers and incorporating high and low fiber diets into this system of feeding. This system of feeding is accomplished by meeting the nutrient needs of the heifer for a desired rate of growth while enhancing total tract nutrient digestibility, reducing waste and improving profitability. High fiber forages have been studied as a means of controlling ad-libitum dry matter intakes and thus weight gain in heifers. These results provide producers with a means of feeding heifers while reducing costs. Similarly, utilizing alternative feedstuffs in heifer diets has also been a major research area for this group including comprehensive research on distillers' co-products, and new protein sources such as camelina and carinata meals. Results indicated that these products can be satisfactorily incorporated into heifer diets. Studying feed additives has also been a function of the research group. Research with Ascophyllum nodosum and cinnamaldehyde indicated that calves find these additives unpalatable and that supplementing cinnamaldehyde to post-weaned heifers showed no benefit. However, sodium butyrate and yeast supplementation proved to be beneficial in the growth and feed efficiency of heifers. This review will focus on the area of post-weaned heifer nutrition.