A Guide to Raising Replacement Heifers
Dr. Allen Young
USU Extension Dairy Specialist

In anticipation of our Utah Dairy Seminars that are coming up the last week of November, I wanted to comment on a publication I received called, "Raising Quality Replacement Heifers - A Guide to Best Management Practices". It was published jointly by the Professional Dairy Heifer Growers Association and the Milk & Dairy Beef Quality Assurance Program. As I read over the contents of this guide, it occurred to me that it would be a good idea for anyone who raises replacement heifers to follow the evaluation process it recommends.

The booklet basically is a self-audit designed to be used by yourself alone or in association with a management team of staff or outside consultants. It is divided into eight different areas called Quality Control Points (similar to HACCP planning). Within each area are a series of statements which you can answer either yes, no or NA (not applicable). I can't reproduce the whole booklet here, but will list the eight different areas and two of several statements from each. They are:

  1. Management for Quality is an Important Part of My Profit!
  2. Quality Heifers are Planned
  3. Quality Heifer Care from Birth to Weaning
  4. Quality Care - Weaning to Pre-breeding
  5. Breeding Quality Heifers
  6. Heifer Care - Breeding to Calving
  7. FIVE-STAR Dairy Quality Assurance Recorgnition

The complete program suggests a three-step approach. The first would be to complete the self-audit and assemble a management team. The second would be to do a best management practices walk-through (i.e., do a on-site review of all management practices, preferably with the help of a third-party). The last step would be to target management changes and start working on them. Many companies such as Merial, Pharmacia, Feedstuff and others have some nice incentives to offer when you participate.

If you would like to get a copy of this guide, please contact the Milk & Dairy Beef Quality Assurance Center at 515/838-2793 or the Professional Dairy Heifer Growers Association at 877/434-3377. I'm sure they would be happy to help you. Raising quality heifers doesn't happen by chance, it takes conscious effort.