National champions share expertise with open day on heifer rearing

More than 250 farmers attended yesterday’s open day on the farm of Jim and Teresa White, Cloneen, Co Tipperary, to learn about dairy replacement heifer rearing.

The Whites were the national winners of the 2013 Heifer Rearing competition. Teagasc’s head of dairy knowledge transfer, Tom O’Dwyer, said a growing number of farmers are providing a heifer rearing service, allowing other dairy farmers to specialise in milk production. The White system of heifer rearing provides a template in best practice for all to follow, he said.

Pat Cahill of Volac added: “Excellence in heifer replacement rearing forms the foundation of the future potential in any dairy herd. This competition looks to reward farmers who have already adopted rearing strategies that maximise a heifer’s lifetime performance.

Almost 100 farmers participated, shortlisted to five top-class finalists and the Whites were the overall winners.”

The Whites feed their calves c.4 litres of colostrum shortly after birth to protect against disease. Both weanling and yearling heifers are rotationally grazed throughout the season to maximise growth off the cheapest forage.

Teagasc dairy specialist George Ramsbottom said: “Three key features of the success of the White family at heifer rearing are; how they manage the newborn calves, their focus on grassland management during the grazing season; and their use of weight recording at critical times in the heifer rearing process.”

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