Care and Management of Heifer :
Heifer: A young female of cattle and buffaloes over one year which has
not calved known as heifer. After calving she becomes a cow.
Heifer is a female animal of cattle and buffaloes from one year of age up to first calving.
Thus heifers are known as future cows of the herd.
Productive performance of cows depends on the care and attention given to them during their heifer hood. Hence, proper nutrition and management of heifers are necessary to provide healthy and genetically superior cows in the future.
A) Feeding :
Heifer can be reared by two methods.
1.Grazing method or outdoor system.
2.Stallfeeding or Indoor system.
1) Grazing system:
a. In this method, heifers are fed at the grassland or pasture by allowing grazing.
b.Pasture plots should be grazed rotationally.
c.sufficient amount of legume grass should be fed.
d.Grazing land must have the provision of shade and supply of drinking water.
e. The number of heifers should be proportional to grassland available.
2) Stall feeding or Indoor system :
a. In this method, a heifer is confined by compound and provided with shelter and not allowed for grazing.
b.Good quality of legume hay and green fodders should be made available for feeding
c. The feed must be rich in nutrients like proteins, energy, minerals, and Vitamins.
d.About 1 to 1.5 kg of concentrate mixture should be given daily.
e.Mineral mixture should be fed for maximum reproductive performance or fertility.
f.An extra amount of concentrates should be fed during the last, half of the pregnancy. This is called steaming up. For this purpose, an additional 1.5 kg of concentrates mixture should be given daily (18% DCP, 65 to 70% TDN)
g. 15 days before calving the concentrate allowance is increased by 500 gms for building up of body reserves and to accustom for high concentrate feeding after calving. This is called challenge feeding.
B) Housing :
a. The heifers from 6 months to breedable age are to be housed separately, from other animals.
b.One month before calving, heifer should be housed along with other milking cows.
c.Flooring should be non-slippery.
C) Management :
a. Heifers should be dewormed every 4 to 6 months.
b.Regular grooming should be practiced.
c.Periodical spraying of insecticide is necessary to avoid ectoparasites.
d.Heifer should be vaccinated timely to control H.S. B.Q; Anthrax and F.M.D.
e. In the stall feeding system, the care is to be taken that, heifer should get sufficient Exercise.
f. Heifers having anatomical defects, poor growth and late maturity should be culled.
g.There are many factors that affect the age of breeding i.e. breed, the system of feeding, quality of nutrition, etc. Under average managemental conditions of feeding and care the heifers attaining 60% of their mature body weight may be considered of age at first breeding.
h.At the breedable age, proper insemination with the semen of proven sire
or natural service should be given.
i. In pregnant heifers, udder should be washed daily with warm water to accustom them for future milking.
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