Dairy heifer calves are being grown better and faster, but these bigger heifers are not being bred early enough in many situations to take full advantage of the more aggressive calf growth, says Jason Leonard, Land O’Lakes Purina Feed.

Breed heifers by sizeLeonard says that many heifers are still being bred at the same age as before even though they could easily be bred two to three months sooner based on size. Breeding based on size of the heifer could help eliminate problems such as increased metabolic problems at calving.

The following are some size benchmarks to consider:

• Get an average weight on the mature (third plus lactation) animals in your herd. Heifers can be bred when they weigh 55% of the mature herd size.

• Wither height of the heifers should also be at least 49 inches (Holsteins) to insure proper frame.

• Heifers should weigh around 85% of mature herd size after they deliver the calf and reach at least 53-54 inches in height (Holsteins) at the withers.

These breeding benchmark numbers can typically be hit by 13 to 15 months of age on most farms which would allow the heifers to calve at 22 to 24 months of age when bred by size.

For more information, visit www.amplicalf.com.