Grass Systems Get Backing from Researchers16 January 2013
US - The merits of pastured heifers have been proven in field trials that compared outdoor heifers with confined animals, according to the University of Wisconsin Cropping Systems Trial.
Field trail research found that heifers kept on grass out produced heifers kept indoors on both counts of average daily gain during the pasture season and milk production in their first lactation.
The field trials, started in 1989, also witnessed calving age and weights of outdoor heifers match those of heifers raised in confinement.
The pastured heifers gained an average of 1.97 pounds per head per day, significantly higher than the 1.86 pounds per head per day for the confined heifers.
First calf, pastured heifers (38) averaged 25,416 pounds of milk in their 305-day adjusted lactation, higher than the 25,328 pounds of milk for the 48 cows that had always been raised in confinement.
Evaluating the sustainability of crop rotation systems in farming and the use of inputs were the main goals of the project and its findings can be by famers who raise stock on pasture, researchers Joshua Posner and Janet Hedtcke have said.
The researchers also measured the body weights of the pastured and confined heifers at the end of the pasture season in October, their ages at first calving, and the frequency of displaced abomasums and retained placentas at first calving.
The pastured and confined heifers did not show significant differences for any of these measurements.
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