Experts Discuss Nutritional Needs of Heifer Calves

By Trish Svoboda

Experts from the Kansas State University Beef Cattle Institute warn that maintaining excessive body condition in early life can have negative effects on heifers kept as replacements.

On a recent Cattle Chat podcast, experts talked about the potential benefits of adding extra feed, known as creep feed, to the diet of nursing calves for enhanced growth, but warn it’s important to monitor to prevent over-conditioning.

Recommendations include limiting creep feed intake to 3-4 pounds per head per day. Calculating the cost of supplemental feed in relation to the animal’s rate of gain is advised by agricultural economist Dustin Pendell. For heifer calves intended as replacements, close diet management is necessary to avoid over-conditioning, as it may lead to decreased lifetime milk production.

Veterinarian Brad White mentioned the importance of maintaining an optimum nutritional plane for growth, cautioning against fat deposition in the mammary gland. It is recommended not to offer free-choice creep feed for heifers intended for retention in the herd.

Sign up for the KCLY Digital Newspaper, The Regional