Dairy Pipeline: April 2009
Extension Dairy Scientist
(540) 231-4762; firstname.lastname@example.org
We have received some questions about the appropriate weight to breed crossbred heifers. At Virginia Tech, we have used 650 lbs as the minimum body weight to breed HJ or JH heifer, while limits of 550 and 750 lbs are used for Jersey and Holstein heifers.
The purebred limits work well, and the 650 lb limit is successful for the HJ and JH animals. Our HJ and JH crosses have been bred to Brown Swiss and Swedish Red bulls for the past three years. We have established a 750 lb minimum for Brown Swiss sired heifers, but have settled on a 700 lb minimum for Swedish Red sired heifers, as the SRB is a somewhat smaller breed than Brown Swiss. We tried 650 lbs for the BS and SRB sired heifers at first
They conceived well enough at that weight, but the half dozen or so of BS and SRB sired heifers bred at 650 lbs entered the herd at 21 – 22 months, and seemed to struggle a bit. Our HJ and JH heifers were just a bit older when bred at the same weight were ready to go when they first freshened as young cows. Bottom line – my recommendations for weight at first breeding:
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