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Calf Rearing Open Day 2023

CAFRE in conjunction with AFBI, hosted a Calf Rearing Open Day that due to the demand for the first event on 18th January, featured a second day on 1st February.

CAFRE Dairy Advisers and Technologists presented on the aspects of rearing dairy heifers from pre-calving through to weaning. AFBI presented on their Optihouse project, illustrating the common causes of poor house design and what lies ahead in the use of modelling technology for calf house design. The tour finished with CAFRE Technologists from the Sustainable Land Management Branch presenting a ‘snap shot’ of energy use and efficiency in the dairy unit. 

Not every producer is aware that rearing a heifer contributes to about 20% of the production costs in a dairy business and it takes on average one and a half lactations for the heifer to repay her investment from the rearing period. Calving at 24 months or before has been shown to be the optimum for economic and lifetime performance and can only be achieved if heifers meet key targets at critical stages in the rearing phase.

Through education, training and knowledge transfer the CAFRE dairy unit is helping improve productivity, resilience, environmental performance and sustainability within the Northern Ireland dairy sector.  In the pursuit of developing a more sustainable dairy herd, work has been done to demonstrate best management practices and use of technology in the areas of calf rearing and heifer management.

If you didn’t attend the event, you can view some of the presentations below:

The heifer rearing period is a financially non productive part of a dairy cow and it has a direct effect on both the total cost of rearing and the time taken to repay the rearing investment. 

To find out more about rearing the 2025 heifer, view the document below: