The years 1917 to 2017 saw many advances in research related to the dairy heifer, and the Journal of Dairy Science currently publishes more than 20 articles per year focused on heifers. In general, nutrition and management changes made in rearing the dairy heifer have been tremendous in the past century. The earliest literature on the growing heifer identified costs of feeding and implications of growth on future productivity as major concepts requiring further study to improve the overall sustainability of the dairy herd. Research into growth rates and standards for body size and stature have been instrumental in developing rearing programs that provide heifers with adequate nutrients to support growth and improve milk production in first lactation. Nutrient requirements, most notably for protein but also for energy, minerals, and vitamins, have been researched extensively. Scientific evaluation of heifer programs also encouraged a dramatic shift toward a lower average age at first calving over the past 30 yr. Calving at 22 to 24 mo best balances the cost of growing heifers with their production and lifetime income potential. Increasingly, farms have become more progressive in adopting management practices based on the physiology and nutrient needs of the heifer while refining key economic strategies to be successful. Research published in the Journal of Dairy Science has an integral role in the progress of dairy heifer programs around the world.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Animal Science and Zoology