WHAT IS HEIFERMAX?
HEIFERMAX is an international on-farm advisory service which specialises in replacement dairy heifer management. We combine the latest international best practice recommendations with the practical experience of raising tens of thousands of calves over many years and translate it all into practical, easily understood and implemented, cost effective calf/heifer management advice.
We have a pro-active approach focussing on management strategies which maximise the health and growth of young stock rather on reactively curing problems once they have occurred.
Our tailored management systems remove the inconsistency from heifer raising to deliver outstanding, predictable results. Dairy heifers can be managed so that they do not become ill; doing this is cost effective as healthy baby calves incur few treatment costs and are likely to grow into above average production dairy cows.
HEIFERMAX recognises the economic importance of heifers to the profitability of a dairy enterprise. We also recognise that although all farmers have the common goal of wanting to raise healthy, rapidly growing heifers which milk well when they enter the herd, every farm has its idiosyncrasies. By recognising and working around these peculiarities we have been able to assist dairy farmers on five continents to improve the management of their heifers from birth to first calving. Our management advice takes into account the geographic, climatic, financial and infrastructure constraints of the farm and the financial, staffing and expertise resources of the client. We are equally comfortable working with dairies in tropical or temperate areas.
Excellent heifer management will result in:
- a significant increase in first lactation milk yield.
- a consequent average net financial benefit in the first lactation.
- a financial benefit which extends through all subsequent lactations.
- increased feed conversion efficiency for life.
- 4 -8 times the production increase of that gained by genetic selection for production.
- longer retention times in the herd.
- a reduced heifer rearing component of the cost of milk production.
In addition, calf management practices based on HACCP plans will address calf welfare issues; this is a pro-active step towards demonstrating to consumers that high welfare standards are an integral part of the lives of our food producing animals.
HEIFERMAX will assist the dairy manager by supervising the important aspects of heifer development, thus allowing the manager to concentrate on cow production.
This service is available to dairies anywhere in the world.
LAMBS and KIDS
We have many years experience working with sheep and goats and so are also able to give advice on the management of kids or lambs hand reared as part of goat or sheep dairy operations. Improving the management of lambs and kids will be achieved using the same principles as we apply to heifer rearing and the benefits are likely to be similar.
The partners in HEIFERMAX are Jeanette Fisher and Dr. Sam Leadley.
Jeanette Fisher lives in Tasmania, Australia, and she has experience as a:
- dairy heifer specialist
- rearer of 1000 bought-in calves a year (12 week mortality of 1.3%)
- calf manager on 2,000 & 1,300 cow dairies
- manager of intensive irrigated and dryland grazing systems
- supervisor of on-farm trials of calf-related products
- veterinary assistant for sheep and goat embryo transfer
- co-manager beef, prime lamb and wool properties
- stockyard designer
- registered nurse
She has been awarded:
- a Rural Women’s Leadership Bursary 2001
- the Jack Green Churchill Fellowship 2002
- a DairyTas Small Projects Grant 2007 to run heifer focus groups
- the RIRDC Tasmanian Rural Women’s Award for 2008
In 2003 she travelled to six countries after winning the prestigious Churchill Fellowship. This allowed her to study calf rearing methods and heifer management techniques, focussing particularly on neonatal bovine immunology, natural therapies to reduce antibiotic use, and veal production. She was privileged to work with renowned American heifer management specialist, Dr Sam Leadley, and to learn from many other calf management specialists in the U.S., Canada, Europe and New Zealand. One of the key lessons learned from this experience is that there is no right way to rear calves; the system and solutions must be tailored fit the individual farm’s staffing levels, infrastructure and climate. She has worked with some of Australia’s biggest dairies to improve the standard of their heifer management.
In 2008 and 2010 she spent several weeks in the U.S. attending the annual Dairy Calf & Heifer Association Conference as well as consulting on dairies and talking to dairy heifer management specialists in several other states. This was another wonderful opportunity to keep up with the latest industry developments and to gain further experience in all facets of heifer care.
Jeanette was the inaugural President of the Professional Calf Rearers’ Association of Australia. She is passionate about improving replacement dairy heifer management and teaches heifer management classes around Australia and overseas.
Complementing Jeanette’s wide-ranging practical experience is the world renowned, U.S.-based Dr. Samuel Leadley, Ph.D., P.A.S., who is the calf/heifer management specialist for the Attica Veterinary Associates, Attica, NY, a practice devoted solely to bovine care.
Dr. Leadley consults with dairy farmers and heifer growers with the economic goal of raising healthier, faster-growing animals through better management practices. Working with the veterinary clinic laboratory, he runs a Colostrum Quality Control Program for dairies committed to TQM and HAACP procedures. He also lectures and teaches classes primarily in the Northeast and Midwest. Dr. Leadley is an active member of the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association and has made invited presentations at the Western Veterinary Conference, Western Dairy Management Conference, Cornell Nutrition Conference, Cornell Summer Dairy Institute, Dairy Health Certificate Program (Univ. Guelph) and World Dairy Expo.
Dr. Leadley writes Calving Ease, a free monthly newsletter that is distributed internationally and he created and maintains a dairy website for the veterinary clinic, www.atticacows.com, including his “Calf Facts” and “Calf Skills” resource libraries. For 12 years before joining the veterinary practice in 2000, Dr. Leadley managed the calf and heifer enterprise on a 1200-cow dairy in western New York State, and he also has been an on-site manager of on-farm research trials for feed and pharmaceutical companies.
Prior to 1982 Dr. Leadley was on the faculty of the Pennsylvania State University and the Extension staff at Cornell University. He holds B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from Cornell.