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HealthyLife
Programme for Sustainable Dairy Farming

Start milk production at an earlier age

HealthyLife
Programme for Sustainable Dairy Farming

Start milk production at an earlier age

The optimum age at first calving is 22 months

Reducing the age at first calving, while still reaching rearing targets, will help to improve Lifetime Daily Yield because heifers will start producing at an earlier age. Studies carried out by the ILVO in Belgium18 showed that reducing the age at first calving from 26 to 24 months resulted in a reduction of methane emission of 3.1%. A study carried out at the Kempenshof TN research center19 demonstrated that heifers that calve at 22 to 24 months have optimal fertility and maximum milk yield in their first lactation, resulting in a further improvement of Lifetime Daily Yield.

The optimum age at first calving can differ between farms. To evaluate if heifers calve at the correct age, milk production in heifers during their first lactation should be compared to milk production of the herd22 and should be 80-82% of the production of mature cows. This would however only allow an evaluation once the lactation has been completed. An alternative would be to look at peak production. Compared to mature cows, heifers have a somewhat lower peak production and a higher persistence. Peak milk production of a dairy heifer should therefore be between 70-73% of peak milk production of the mature cows in the herd.

If heifers are bred too early, there is an increased risk of dystocia, poor transition to lactation and problems with fertility. When the ratio is less than 70%, heifers are not peaking high enough compared to mature cows. This indicates problems with heifers that could very well be related to issues during the rearing period. Heifers that are bred too late tend to have poorer subsequent fertility.

Peak ratios over 73% in heifers indicate problems in multiparous cows

Calculate your profit!
See how sustainable dairy farming will result in more profitability of your farm

In contrast to common belief, it is very well possible to run a farm in a sustainable way while generating a healthy income.

Calculate your profit by influencing the 4 key HealthyLife indicators that help improve the Lifetime Daily Yield on your farm.

Go to calculator

Calculate your profit!
See how sustainable dairy farming will result in more profitability of your farm

In contrast to common belief, it is very well possible to run a farm in a sustainable way while generating a healthy income.

Calculate your profit by influencing the
4 key HealthyLife indicators that help improve the Lifetime Daily Yield on your farm.

Go to calculator

Reduce age at first calving with the LifeStart calf feeding programme

The LifeStart programme brings together the latest science about calf rearing and translates this into practical advice.
With the LifeStart rearing programme the age at first calving can be reduced to 22 months. Next to reducing the age at first calving the LifeStart programme will also improve milk production during the first and second lactation and reduce the involuntary culling rate19.

Related articles to learn more about sustainable dairy farming