From Weaning to Freshening, Dairy Heifer Care and Management Workshop: Fun for the Serious Heifer Raiser

Mrs. Dianne Shoemaker, Dairy Extension Specialist, OSU Extension 

The future of every successful dairy operation depends on a steady supply of healthy, productive replacement heifers calving between 22 and 24 months of age. If the dairy is not expanding, sales of excess heifers should be an additional revenue stream for the farm. If the farm is raising replacement heifers for others, producing healthy, productive animals is essential to the long-term success of the custom heifer enterprise.

This intense, 2-day workshop picks up where the Neonatal Calf Care and Management Workshop left off in March. Participants will focus on understanding and managing the heifer from weaning through the pre-fresh period. Sessions on October 31 and November 1 include:

1) Growth and nutrition,
2) Health diagnosis, treatment, and prevention,
3) Managing the heifer enterprise,
4) Housing heifers,
5) Designing safe and efficient handling systems,
6) Successful reproduction, and
7) Communications.

Hands-on labs include:

1) Up close with reproductive tracts,
2) Successful heat detection and use of heat detection tools, and
3) Measuring and tracking growth.

For the people working with heifers, it is highly rewarding to work with barns full of healthy, content heifers that grow well and settle to the first service. Dealing with chronic morbidity, mortality, and bred-but-open heifers is discouraging for the people working with the heifers and unprofitable as well as unsustainable for the farm.

At an average total cost of $2 a day to raise bred heifers, each month a heifer is open after 22 months of age costs the farm at least $60. Getting heifers grown and bred to calve by 22 to 24 months of age will produce an animal that is generating net income, not costing the dairy business money.

The Heifer Care and Management Workshop is designed for heifer managers and care-givers who are dedicated to doing the best job possible raising their heifers. It will be held near Wooster on the campus of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. A detailed agenda and registration materials are available to download at or by contacting Dianne Shoemaker at (330) 263-3799. Register early as class size will be limited to assure plenty of hands-on experiences for participants.