Title page for ETD etd-52398-112651

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Winston, David R.
Author's Email Address dwinston@vt.edu
URN etd-52398-112651
Title A Five State Survey of Heifer Management Practices on Dairy Farms and Virginia Custom Dairy Heifer Growing Operations
Degree Master of Science
Department Dairy Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
James, Robert E. Committee Chair
Kohl, David M. Committee Member
McGilliard, Michael L. Committee Member
Stallings, Charles C. Committee Member
  • heifer management
  • custom heifer growers
Date of Defense 1998-05-29
Availability restricted
Two surveys evaluated heifer management practices in dairy

herds and custom grower operations. The NC-119 Heifer

Management Survey conducted through the North Central

Regional Research Project 119 included 226 Holstein and

67 Jersey herds from MN, MO, PA, VA, and WA. Mean rolling

herd average for milk was 8,838 and 6,251 kg for Holstein

and Jersey herds, respectively. Calf mortality rates from

birth to first calving were 15.3 % for Holsteins and 15.8%

for Jerseys. High producing herds had more aggressive,

preventive health programs, hand-fed colostrum to newborn

calves, and used prepartum groups and separate postpartum

groups for first calf heifers. Practices associated with

low calf mortality included using maternity pens in barns

separate from the dairy herd as a calving facility and

vaccination for brucellosis, an indicator of the level of

overall management. Larger herds weaned calves earlier,

placed more importance on heifer size as a criterion for

first breeding, and used prepartum groups and separate

postpartum groups for first calf heifers States differed

in calving facility and calf housing choices. Calf

mortality rates were similar among states. The Virginia

Custom Dairy Heifer Rearing Survey included 24 growers.

Average herd size was 194 head. Seven growers contracted

with dairy producers, nine purchased, raised, and resold

heifers, and eight did both. Survey results indicated a

need for increased emphasis in several management areas.

Only two contract growers had written contracts.

Fifty-eight percent never monitored growth and 42% did

not have forages tested or rations balanced. Fifty-seven

percent used AI.

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