New Benchmarks for Heifers

September 23, 2010 09:12 AM

Guidelines now extend to freshening

Bonus Content

Complete list of Gold Standards II

Spanish translation

A new round of standards for raising calves and heifers has been released by the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association (DCHA).

Known as Gold Standards II, the benchmarks address the production and performance of U.S. Holstein heifers from six months of age to freshening.

The guidelines follow the association’s first set of Gold Standards, specifically structured for Holstein calves up to six months of age. Those were released in 2009.

“As an industry association, it is essential that we advocate for management practices and performance measures that will drive success,” says DCHA president and veterinarian Bob Patrick. “We provide the Gold Standards to all producers, regardless of membership, at no charge.”

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The Gold Standards program enables dairy producers to set realistic goals for their operations.

Gold Standards II establishes guidelines in the areas of mortality, morbidity, growth rate and nutrition, housing, vaccination and parasite control, breeding and pregnant heifers. The standards were introduced in August at the American Association of Bovine Practitioners meeting in Albuquerque, N.M.

DCHA worked with producers, university researchers and Extension agents across the country to outline appropriate benchmarks for the Holstein weaning-to-freshening category. By obtaining a range of opinions, the group believes, the final Gold Standards are realistic yet attainable goals for most producers.

DCHA also plans to write standards for raising Jersey calves and heifers. Pfizer Animal Health has sponsored the Gold Standards project.

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