What is the optimum prepartum weight and condition score for first-calf heifers?
Many calving problems can be eliminated if heifers are of adequate size. Their weight at first calving should be approximately 85% of their expected mature weight.
Body condition at calving is the single most important factor controlling when a beef heifer will cycle after calving. Prepartum body condition score correlates with several factors, such as postpartum interval, services/ conception, calving interval, milk production, weaning weight, calving difficulty and calf survival. Heifers should have a body condition of 5-6 at calving through breeding to assure optimal reproductive performance. Animals with excess body condition have lower reproductive performance and more calving difficulty than animals in moderate body condition. Body condition score is generally a reflection of nutritional management. However, disease and parasitism can contribute to lower body condition scores even if apparent nutrient requirements are met.
A sound herd health program is an essential part of any reproductive management system.