Feeding a heifer from birth to first lactation is costly for any dairy operation. Many dairy producers focus on reducing the number of days heifers are on feed, often achieved by lowering the age of first calving, in order to lower feed costs. But Joe Dalton of the University of Idaho argues the more important driver of that benchmark is the age at conception.

Dalton says to improve age at conception, producers can manage heifers during the voluntary waiting period before they cross the eligibility threshold into insemination. Knowing your heifer’s current performance metrics is also a critical component to maximizing feed efficiencies.

Read more on age at conception versus age at first calving here.