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Rhiannon Handcock

Doctor of Philosophy, (Animal Science)
Study Completed: 2019
College of Sciences

Citation

Thesis Title
Live weight and growth of dairy heifers are important for subsequent milk production and reproductive performance

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

Ms Handcock’s research highlighted that only 61% of reared dairy heifers remained in the herd for three lactations. Ms Handcock used records from 190,000 dairy heifers to investigate the implications of growing heifers better before their first calving. Her research showed that as the live weight of heifers increased, their milk production and probability of calving and calving early also increased. For heifers that were at the heaviest live weights, significant improvements to milk production was reported but also a small reduction in reproductive performance. For heifers that were below average in live weight, significant improvements to both milk production and reproductive performance would be expected by increasing their live weight. This information can be used to develop guidelines to improve the productivity and survival of dairy cattle in New Zealand by improving the live weight of the lightest heifers.

Supervisors
Associate Professor Rebecca Hickson
Professor Grant Edwards
Professor Nicolas Lopez-Villalobos

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