An economic analysis of heifer rearing and breeding selection in Great Britain – an empirical analysis

Published 23 February 15

After the cost of feed for the milking herd, the second largest annual expense to a dairy farmer is the cost of rearing replacement heifers. It accounts for approximately 20% of the farm’s production costs after feed for the milking herd. Recent estimations in the agricultural press for the cost of rearing a heifer from birth to first calving is £1,200 (range £1,000 to £1,500 including its own value).

The aim of this research was to determine the true cost of heifer rearing and to identify critical factors that influence the cost of rearing. In order to achieve this aim, a heifer rearing and farm breeding survey was conducted. The survey included 124 questions recording details of on-farm calf and heifer management. Input costs were also obtained during the interview in order to calculate the cost of rearing.