On farms that retain homebred heifers as herd replacements, late February and early March is a good time to weigh these animals to see if they are on track to meet target breeding weight.
If heifers are below target, there is still time to alter the diet or target replacements for early turnout as soon as ground conditions allow.
Either measure should increase weight gain and get animals back on track.
The heavier replacements are at breeding time, the better. This ensures heifers are well developed and able to cope with the demands of rearing a calf and getting back in-calf again.
Ideally, maiden heifers should weigh at least 60% of the average mature cow weight in the herd when mated.
Therefore, if the average cow weighs 700kg, heifers should weigh at least 420kg when breeding starts. Heifers above this weight are a bonus.
For cows closer to a 750kg average liveweight, the minimum target breeding weight increases to 450kg for replacements.
If turnout is early- to mid-April and breeding starts on 1 June, replacement heifers should weigh at least 370kg to 400kg by 1 March to reach the outlined target breeding weight in time.