Dairy Cow

Dairy Management Tip for the Month -Spring 2023

First-Calf Heifers Behave Differently than Mature Cows

First-calf heifers should be housed separately from the mature cows, if at all possible.  Heifers take smaller bites of feed and spend more time eating than mature cows.  Studies have shown feeding times increased by 11% and milk production increased by 9% when heifers are housed separately from mature cows. 

Separation of first-calf heifers from mature cows is even more critical when freestalls are overcrowded and/or feedbunk space is limited, i.e. with 6-row barns.  Heifers are more submissive than mature cows and do not compete as well for stall and bunk space when challenged .  Resting time, a critical need for cows, is reduced more for heifers than cows when overcrowded.  Cows prioritize resting time over feeding times.


March 2023 Tip

On-Farm Management Practices Impact Incidence Rates for Lameness

Management Action

Why is this practice important?

Scrap lots to minimize cows’ hooves coming in contact with manure and urine

Increased exposure of hooves and feet to manure and urine can increase the incidence of foot rot and other infectious foot problems.  Also, moist hooves are softer and may be more susceptible to injury from small stones found in lanes used to move cows to and from barn lots.

Trim feet regularly

Make sure cows can distribute their weight evenly over the claw

Proper and routine use of footbaths

Prevent infectious diseases of the hoof

Minimize standing time on concrete surfaces

Provide comfortable, well-bedded, and properly-designed freestalls for cows to lie down and chew their cuds.

Do not overcrowd the freestall barn- enough stalls are needed so that the timid heifer can “find her own stall”

After feeding, the majority of the herd should be able to lie down in stalls and chewing their cuds

If cows are not using the stalls properly, investigate how to improve their usage (Are the stalls the proper length? Do cows have adequate lunge space to get up and to lie down? Are the stalls comfortable?)

 Prevent hock lesions

Adequate bedding is needed in the rear of the stall to prevent lesions. (With mattresses, 1 inch of bedding should cover the back of the stall.)