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Rearing strategy and optimizing first-calving targets in dairy heifers: a review.

Abstract : Much research has been carried out and published on dairy replacement management, in order to rear heifers as efficiently as possible, from both a technical and economical point of view. In most cases, the aim is to rear the heifers at the lowest cost possible without any deleterious effects on future performances. However, the importance of dairy heifer husbandry is not sufficiently well recognized and probably mishandled by most farmers. The present review aims to give an actual overview of rearing procedures in dairy heifers and possible ways to achieve optimal goals. For many years, it has been well known that rapid rearing lowers the age of sexual maturity and consequently may be an efficient way to reduce the non-producing period prior to conception. But this may impair mammary development and consequently future milk production, at least during first lactation. In addition, a growth rate that is too low may not only be costly but also result in animals that are too fat at first calving, creating problems such as calving difficulties, dystocia, etc. Genetic considerations must also be factored, i.e. frame, size, body weight, etc. have changed during the last 20 years and there are differences between breeds. As a result, some time-honoured recommendations may not be appropriate. The present paper reviews factors and management practices that may affect rearing and subsequent performance of dairy heifers.
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Submitted on : Friday, September 7, 2012 - 3:59:34 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, April 6, 2022 - 4:08:19 PM

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yannick Le Cozler, Vanessa Lollivier, P. Lacasse, Catherine Disenhaus. Rearing strategy and optimizing first-calving targets in dairy heifers: a review.. Animal, Published by Elsevier (since 2021) / Cambridge University Press (until 2020), 2008, 2 (9), pp.1393-404. ⟨10.1017/S1751731108002498⟩. ⟨hal-00729819⟩



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