Aim to grow heifer prof­its

The Western Star - - Rural Weekly -

AC­KNOWL­EDG­ING the con­nec­tion be­tween whole herd prof­itabil­ity and heifer con­cep­tion rates, calv­ing ease, moth­er­ing and early re-breed­ing, a new Davies Re­search Cen­tre Univer­sity of Ade­laide led project will seek to iden­tify the im­pact of growth path from wean­ing to join­ing on heifer pro­duc­tiv­ity.

The project is one of 13 on-farm re­search, de­vel­op­ment and adop­tion projects from the 2018-19 an­nual call to re­ceive Meat & Live­stock Aus­tralia fund­ing, in­sti­gated through MLA’s RD&A re­gional con­sul­ta­tion process.

The process en­ables grass­fed beef and sheep­meat pro­duc­ers to have in­put into the di­rec­tion of RD&A fund­ing most rel­e­vant to them.

The project will aim to in­crease the wet-and-preg­nant early (WAPE) sta­tus of heifers joined in temperate pro­duc­tion sys­tems by at least 10 per cent rel­a­tive to cur­rent on-farm lev­els.

Re­searchers will work with producer groups, com­mer­cial beef pro­duc­ers and their ad­vi­sors to de­velop up-to-date, re­gion­ally rel­e­vant and prac­ti­cal man­age­ment rec­om­men­da­tions across a re­gion com­pris­ing more than two mil­lion breed­ing cows.

Univer­sity of Ade­laide sci­en­tist Dr Stephen Lee said the project would pro­vide clear man­age­ment rec­om­men­da­tions for pro­duc­ers to in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity with­out in­creas­ing risk or man­age­ment com­plex­ity.

“By col­lect­ing de­tailed an­i­mal per­for­mance and feed records from au­tumn and late win­ter/spring calv­ing sys­tems across south­ern Aus­tralia, we will de­velop a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the op­ti­mum growth path for mod­ern phe­no­type heifers to achieve WAPE,” Dr Lee said.

“This will al­low us to bench­mark the cur­rent sta­tus of heifers across south­ern breeder re­gions and drive im­prove­ments in whole herd prof­itabil­ity.

“The re­search will pro­vide en­hanced knowl­edge of in­ter­ac­tions be­tween heifer growth, mat­ing weight and join­ing sea­son nutri­tion with heifer preg­nancy con­cep­tion rates and dates.

“This in­for­ma­tion will then help in­form bet­ter man­age­ment prac­tices for pro­duc­ers seek­ing to in­crease heifer per­for­mance.”

The project is be­ing de­liv­ered in part­ner­ship with Hol­brook Vet Cen­tre and Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria and will work with pro­duc­ers across the Lime­stone Coast in South Aus­tralia, the NSW Rive­rina, and Vic­to­ria, and cover a range of calv­ing pe­ri­ods.

MLA gen­eral man­ager of producer con­sul­ta­tion and adop­tion, Michael Crow­ley, said the project was an ex­cit­ing and im­por­tant piece of work for the beef in­dus­try.

“This project rep­re­sents an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity for data un­der­pin­ning rec­om­mended heifer man­age­ment strate­gies to be re­freshed and up­dated,” Mr Crow­ley said. “Links be­tween heifer per­for­mance and whole herd prof­itabil­ity are well estab­lished.

“The abil­ity of this re­search to in­form clear man­age­ment rec­om­men­da­tions which will as­sist pro­duc­ers to cost­ef­fec­tively in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity with­out in­creas­ing risk or man­age­ment com­plex­ity is very promis­ing.”

MLA’s an­nual call is aimed at at­tract­ing one- to five-year projects that ad­dress the RD&A pri­or­i­ties iden­ti­fied for the sheep­meat and grass­fed beef in­dus­tries.

More in­for­ma­tion is avail­able at


Links heifer per­for­mance and whole herd prof­itabil­ity are well estab­lished.

— Michael Crow­ley


BUILD­ING THE HERD: A re­search project will pro­vide rec­om­men­da­tions to in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity with­out in­creas­ing risk or man­age­ment com­plex­ity.

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