Solberg on Soil: Managed Grazing for Replacement Heifers

Kent Solberg

Dairy farmers are struggling with low milk prices. A large cost for dairy producers is rearing replacement heifers. Depending upon whose numbers you look at it costs between $1,700-$2,400 to raise a heifer to first lactation. This is not financially competitive given current heifer market values ($800-$1,000/head).

Managed grazing can be an effective means to reduce the cost of raising replacement heifers. Most Midwest pastures are dominated by cool-season grasses that greatly reduce growth rates when summer temperature soar.

Also, adding a few acres of warm-season native grasses can offset cool season pasture forage slump during the summer and offer quality feed at a very competitive cost.