Breeding heifers has always attracted a lot of interest because the results obtained during that period can greatly influence the cost effectiveness of the dairy business. In fact, it's been a very hot issue for the past several months. As recently as last fall I was writing a column about the importance of decreasing the calving age. As for the industry, this very topic was the focus of Valacta's farmer and service provider training over the winter; they also covered different methods and the cost of breeding replacement subjects.
Do you realize that at this time, animals in most herds are more often less productive than productive? With the average herd age at 50 months, heifers spend 27 months growing, plus time spent during dry periods between lactations.
For several years, service providers have suggested that the calving age be lowered. Obviously and considering how things are going, we should reach the 24-month target by the end of this century!
It is inconceivable to think that we have been talking about achieving the same objective for 30 years and have yet to be successful, all the while, our neighbours to the South, who operate in an unrestrained production environment, are closer to reaching this goal and with much larger herds! The time has come to speed up the process… but for whom?
Many producers have already successfully reached the 24-month calving goal with the desired weight for the breed. So I’m writing this for everyone else. The beauty of it all is that this is fact, not fiction: practice has shown us that this is possible.
Your expert-consultants are currently recording data for Défi Goliath 2012, a challenge aimed at honouring the productivity of heifers that calved at a ‘young’ age, or should I say a ‘normal’ age. It will be interesting to see how many producers have improved the average calving age from year to year all the while increasing the productivity of their first-calf subjects. There is a dual goal in breeding heifers: early calving at the desired weight and healthy dairy production.
We wish to take this opportunity to introduce something new in Goliath nutrition for heifers 0 to 6 months. Thanks to different research projects and to the collaboration of our nutrition team and our CRF research network, we developed a new generation of feed designed specifically for calves. It incorporates a technology that is exclusive to La Coop fédérée. The purpose is simple: to enhance feed efficiency and improve the growth rate of calves with the obvious intent of lowering the first-calf age. Products from the Goliath range already contain a combination of ingredients encouraging early consumption. Our team of specialists left nothing to chance when seeking to improve the performance of their product offering. This is a very significant technological advance in our field, comparable to the most demanding fine-tuning of a formula 1 engine, just enough to make something good even better. Heifers bred under good conditions will further improve their growth rate or their feed efficiency while boosting their overall health.
Since early April, these new advances have been part of Goliath products that you may already be using. With proven field results, tests of appetency of this new range of improved products have been conclusive. So we are very proud to offer you this exclusivity available only in nutriments from the Goliath line of products.
Thinking performance… So are we!