Journal of the Department of Agriculture, Western Australia, Series 4


G J. Sawyer


Beef cattle, Heifers, Calving, Liveweight, Reproductive performance


Dairy Science | Meat Science | Nutrition | Reproductive and Urinary Physiology | Sustainability

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Heifers and first calvers present the major problems of the beef breeding herd. Reproduction rates, calf growth and survival of first calvers are generally much poorer than those of adult breeders.

Early successful reproductive performance is important in beef herds because of the high overhead cost of keeping breeding beef heifers or cows, Where possible, beef producers should aim to join heifers at 14 to 15 months of age. To achieve this goal, producers should set production targets for those animals. These targets will differ from farm to farm depending on when calves are turned off and the seasonal feed supply.

Many suggestions to improve production from heifers and first calvers have come from research institutions and environments different from those in Western Australia. Beef cattle officers within the Department of Agriculture believe that some of these suggesations are not suited to our environment. They could also prove costly because of the extra feeding involved.

This article reports on a three-year trial on heifers and first-calvers in the Bunbury region, and provides information which refutes some of the outside theories and suggestions. It discusses economical techniques of managing these animals to maximise their productivity and to reduce growth and reproductive problems.