Livestock

Taking a closer look at heifers

By Country News

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 grass-fed beef and sheep-meat 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’ 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 advisers 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 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.’’

■For details about the 13 RD&A projects, visit: www.mla.com.au/globalassets/mla-corporate/research-and-development/documents/funding-opportunities/annual-call-funded-proposals-pdf-18-19.pdf