Out-wintering systems for replacement heifers

Published 19 May 16

Project Details:

Replacement costs are the second largest cost on most dairy farms after feed and forage. Outwintering replacement heifers may provide a lower costs option by reducing winter housing and conserved forage costs. However to date little information has been available on the performance of replacement heifers reared in outwintering systems in comparison with housed heifers. In addition, not much is known about current outwintering practices in GB dairy systems and the levels of performance being achieved.

Aims:

This project aims to investigate the potential of outwintering systems for replacement dairy heifers in Great Britain. The project consists of three key work streams:

  1. Conducting a survey of outwintering practices on GB dairy farms to establish current practice
  2. An on-farm study to evaluate the performance of replacement heifers on commercial spring-calving dairy farms and assess the impact of mineral supplementation on the mineral status of these animals
  3. Research trials to compare the performance of outwintered replacement heifers pre-partum and in early lactation with those housed during the winter months, and evaluate any potential cost savings to be achieved with outwintering systems.

Start date:
June 2012

End date:
March 2016

Funders:
AHDB Dairy

Lead contractor:
Harper Adams University

Other contractors:
This project is part of the AHDB Dairy Grassland, Forage and Soils Research Partnership led by SRUC in conjunction with Harper Adams University and the University of Reading.

Project Reports:
Performance of replacement spring-calving dairy heifers outwintered on different forages
Survey of current practice among farmers outwintering replacement dairy heifers
Comparison of housed and outwintered replacement dairy heifers in high output systems

Scientific Literature:

Atkins, N.A., Bleach. E.C.L. and Sinclair, L.A. (2015) The effects of performance of out-wintering replacement heifers in a high-output dairy system. Grassland Science in Europe. 20: 81 – 83.

Atkins, N.A., Bleach. E.C.L., Hargreaves, P.R. and Sinclair, L.A. (2015) The effects of out-wintering replacement dairy heifers on deferred grazing, kale or fodder beet, without or with a trace mineral bolus on pre-calving performance in commercial spring calving herds. Advances in Animal Biosciences. 6: 186.

Atkins, N.A., Bleach. E.C.L., Hargreaves, P.R. and Sinclair, L.A. (2015) The effects of out-wintering replacement dairy heifers on deferred grazing, kale or fodder beet, without or with a trace mineral bolus on first lactation performance in commercial spring calving herds. Advances in Animal Biosciences. 6: 187.

Atkins, N.A., Walley, K., Bleach. E.C.L. and Sinclair, L.A. (2014) A survey of current practice among dairy farmers out-wintering replacement heifers in Great Britain. Advances in Animal Biosciences. 5: 218.

For further information, please contact Debbie.mcconnell@ahdb.org.uk or call 024 7647 8704.