As we enter mid-October, the housing of heifers and cows for the winter period is drawing close – or on some farms has already happened.

It is important to continue monitoring your replacement heifers during the housed period to ensure they reach their target weight gains.

These heifers will be put in-calf next April or May, so if they fall behind it will be difficult for them to catch up.

Yearling heifers need to gain between 0.5kg and 0.7kg/day over the housed period to achieve their target weights.


To ensure that heifers continue to gain weight over the housed period, you should separate any heifers that are currently below their target weight.

These heifers should be kept separate to the heifers that are on, or above target, to allow them have access to priority feeding.

Ensure that where you are housing the heifers has adequate feed space. For yearling heifers 0.3m will suffice, but below this may lead to reduced performance.


If you have not already done so, you should test your silage to determine its quality. Determining your silage quality will have an impact on the amount of concentrates that will be required to feed the heifers.

Feeding heifers a 72% dry matter digestibility (DMD) silage compared to a 67% DMD silage will mean that you can reduce concentrate feeding by 1kg/head for heifers that are on-target.


Shortly after you have housed your heifers it is important that you treat them for parasites.

The four major parasites farmers need to be conscious of at housing are:

  • Gutworms, (particularly Ostertagia);
  • Lungworm;
  • Fluke; and
  • Lice.

Failure to control parasites in heifers at housing could see significant production losses from reduced weight gain, fertility issues, irreversible lung damage, increased susceptibility to disease and even death.

Once the heifers are housed they will be sharing the same airspace, which only aids disease transmission.