Heifer development to be researched

The University of Adelaide is researching the link between cattle herd profitability and heifer conception


The University of Adelaid has been given MLA funding to look at the links between heifer health and calving rates, and herd profitability.


A new University of Adelaide led research project has acknowledged the connection between whole herd profitability and heifer conception rates, calving ease, mothering and early re-breeding.

The University's Davies Research Centre, project wants to identify the impact of growth path from weaning to joining on heifer productivity, and it is one of 13 on-farm research, development and adoption projects from the 2018-19 annual call to receive Meat & Livestock Australia funding thorugh its regional consultation process.

The project will aim to increase the 'wet-and-pregnant early' status of heifers joined in temperate production systems by at least 10 per cent relative to current on-farm levels.

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Researchers will work with producer groups, commercial beef producers and their advisors to develop up-to-date, regionally relevant and practical management recommendations across a region comprising more than two million breeding cows.

University of Adelaide scientist, Dr Stephen Lee, said the project will provide clear management recommendations for producers to increase productivity without increasing risk or management complexity.

"By collecting detailed animal performance and feed records from autumn and late winter/spring calving systems across southern Australia, we will develop a better understanding of the optimum growth path for modern phenotype heifers to achieve WAPE," Dr Lee said.

"This will allow us to benchmark the current status of heifers across southern breeder regions and drive improvements in whole herd profitability. The research will provide enhanced knowledge of interactions between heifer growth, mating weight and joining season nutrition with heifer pregnancy conception rates and dates. This information will then help inform better management practices for producers seeking to increase heifer performance."

The project is being delivered in partnership with Holbrook Vet Centre and Agriculture Victoria and will work with producers across the Limestone Coast in South Australia, the NSW Riverina, and Victoria, and cover a range of calving periods.

The General Manager of Producer Consultation and Adoption with MLA , Michael Crowley, said the project was an important piece of work for the beef industry.

"This project represents an excellent opportunity for data underpinning recommended heifer management strategies to be refreshed and updated," Mr Crowley said.

"Links between heifer performance and whole herd profitability are well established. The ability of this research to inform clear management recommendations which will assist southern producers to cost effectively increase productivity without increasing risk or management complexity is very promising."

For details about the 13 projects, click here.


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