The problem: Heifers entering the national herd are below target liveweight and this has a negative impact on milk production and reproductive performance.
Key stakeholders: DairyNZ, Beef and Lamb NZ, LIC, dairy farmers and graziers
Timeline: The project started in August 2013 after which an Industry Advisory Group was formed to discuss and assess the problem of heifer rearing in order to develop a strategy to address the problem. This group met five times between August 2013 and March 2014. After the initial discussions were held and there was a common idea on what the problem with heifer rearing was, the Industry Advisory group started to develop some ideas that were assessed in Farmer and Rural Professional Group meetings. These meetings were held in 8 different locations to really get a clear view from different perspectives and context. Each group was visited once in November/December 2013 and four groups re-visited in February/March 2014. In April 2014 the Heifer Rearing Strategy was finalised by the Industry Advisory Group and approved by DairyNZ. This led to the formation of the Heifer Rearing Steering Group in July 2014. This group will drive the strategy and will develop some key messages around the issue of heifer rearing. Out of the Industry Advisory Group some working groups will be formed in the future, for example focussing on resource development for relationship management between stakeholders involved in heifer rearing. Also some additional research will be done on developing an Alternative Pricing model and sourcing knowledge of heifer rearing through focus farms.