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Books Online Rearing Young Stock on Tropical Dairy Farms in Asia





Foreword
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About the author
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Other books and technical manuals by the author
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Acknowledgements
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Acknowledgement of The Crawford Fund
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Chemical warning
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Contents
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Introduction
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This chapter presents an outline of the book, which provides technical information on the theories, as well as the practices, of rearing young stock on tropical dairy farms.
The main points in this chapter
•This book is the fourth book written on various aspects of tropical dairy farming.
•Young stock (milk-fed calves and growing heifers) are the most neglected class of stock on most dairy farms.
•Of the nine key activities on dairy farms, young stock management generally receives the least attention. This is primarily because it has the greatest time span between any financial investment and return.
•Even on the best dairy farms, heifers will not generate income for 2 yr after they enter the dairy herd as newborn calves.
•If farm incomes decrease and cost savings become necessary, replacement heifers are all too frequently the first ones to suffer from reduced farm inputs.
•On farms where growing heifers can be moved away from the rest of the dairy herd, many problems associated with ‘out of sight, out of mind’ can occur.
•Improved management strategies leading to lower calving intervals, higher calving rates, reduced stillborn and pre-weaned calf mortalities and fewer non-pregnant heifers can supply many more dairy herd replacements.
•Such strategies can increase the number of replacement heifer calves in the herd from 15 to 36%, thus allowing farmers to increase their herd sizes naturally.
•This book highlights many of these problems, as well as those arising from the fact that heifers, particularly milk-fed calves, are the most susceptible class of stock to poor farm management practices.

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pp. 1-12
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The two phases of young stock management
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This chapter lists the key objectives during the two phases of heifer rearing.
The main points in this chapter
•The first phase is milk rearing, from birth to weaning.
•The second phase is post-weaning up until point of first calving.
•The key objectives of these two phases are listed.

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pp. 13-22
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Digestion of feeds in the milk-fed calf
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This chapter describes the various processes of digestion in the milk-fed calf.
The main points in this chapter
•The adult animal requires a fully functioning rumen to digest the fibrous feeds. The rumen is undeveloped in newborn calves, which depend on abomasal digestion until weaned off milk.
•Milk bypasses the rumen via the oesophageal groove where it forms a clot and is digested in the abomasum.
•Rumen development depends on the intake of solid feeds, which stimulate the rumen wall to absorb feed nutrients.
•Rumination, or ‘chewing the cud’, is a good sign of rumen development in milk-fed calves.
•The inclusion of roughage in the diet allows for earlier weaning. However, calves must consume high energy/protein concentrates for growth as well as rumen development.

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pp. 23-30
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The nutrient requirements of calves
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This chapter describes the various feed nutrient calves require for normal growth
The main points in this chapter
•Water is essential for all living animals. Weaned calves require 10–15 L/day with up to 25 L/day on hot days.
•Energy is required to maintain body temperature and to support normal body function. Energy is best described as metabolisable energy (ME), with requirements quantified in MJ of ME/day.
•Milk is digested in the abomasum with much higher energetic efficiency than are solid feeds in the rumen.
•Proteins are required to maintain normal body processes, repairing tissues and forming blood and also laying down muscle. Protein is quantified in g/day or percentage of feed dry matter.
•Rumen development in the milk-fed calf depends on its intake of solid feeds that contain fibre.
•Calves also require small amounts of minerals and vitamins. The most important minerals are calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.

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pp. 31-40
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The importance of colostrum to newborn calves
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This chapter discusses the management of colostrum feeding in the first few hours of a calf’s life.
The main points in this chapter
•Calves are born with no immunity against disease, so must depend on their dam to provide passive immunity through colostrum: the first milk produced after birth.
•The essence of good colostrum feeding management is the 3 Qs; quality, quantity and quickly.
•Quality is essential to ensure there are sufficient antibodies (against diseases) in the colostrum for absorption by the calf.
•Quantity to ensure the calf ingests sufficient of these antibodies.
•Quickly means the calf’s digestive tract is still receptive to absorbing them.
• Modern day dairy cows do not produce good-quality colostrum and many calves will not drink soon after birth. Therefore it is better to stomach tube each newborn calf to ensure it can acquire passive immunity against diseases.
•The level of circulating antibodies in the calf’s blood has a direct influence on its disease resistance, its performance as a mature cow and the financial contribution to the farm’s profit.

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pp. 41-56
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Calf and heifer mortalities in the tropics
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This chapter documents the high calf and heifer mortalities reported in many tropical dairy farming surveys.
The main points in this chapter
•Tropical areas are not ideal locations for calf rearing because the high temperatures and humidities introduce many potential disease problems to young dairy stock.
•In addition, the type of dairy farming (generally poorly resourced small holder farming) and the general lack of awareness of the long-term implications of poorly reared stock do not encourage farmers to pay close attention to their calf- and heiferrearing systems.
•Surveys of calf-rearing systems in tropical Asia, Africa and South America highlight the high calf and heifer mortalities.
•Pre-weaning calf mortality rates of 15–25% would be typical on many tropical dairy farms, but they can often be as high as 50%, indicating very poor calf management.
•This contrasts with ‘gold standards’ in the US of less than 8% mortality from birth to 6 months, while Australian farmers only suffer 3% losses.
•The involvement of farmers in simple extension programs in Sri Lanka and Kenya have drastically reduced calf mortalities and improved pre-weaning growth rates.
•Problems in calf rearing, as identified on Tanzanian small holder farms, have been ranked in decreasing order by farmers as labour, poor calf growth, diseases, little milk available and inadequate knowledge, which all led to high calf mortalities.
•Clearly, calf mortality in tropical SHD systems is a bigger problem than in temperate farms, for a variety of reasons.
•Unfortunately, such high rates are accepted as ‘normal’ on many farms, whereas they could be dramatically reduced by following a few relatively simple procedures.
•The research has yet to be undertaken (or at least reported) in the tropics where young stock are reared using the best management practices found on temperate farms, to ascertain more realistic targets for tropical dairy small holdings.

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pp. 57-72
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Facilities for calf and heifer rearing in the tropics
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This chapter discusses the housing of young stock and other facilities required in a welldesigned calf shed.
The main points in this chapter
•Close attention should be given to the design, construction and maintenance of facilities for calves and heifers.
•Considerations are to optimise feeding management, stock welfare and wellbeing, climate control, hygiene and disease management.
•Stock should always be provided with adequate feed and water.
•Herd management practices should always minimise stress, injury and disease.
•Staff should be adequately trained or experienced in good animal care.
•Calves can be housed in individual pens, providing 1–2 m2 of floor space with a welldrained floor.
•Containing each calf in a raised metal cage provides the best housing because they are isolated from each other, live in a well-ventilated and clean pen, are easier to feed and water and allow for much easier individual surveillance.
•Group pens allow for easier feeding, although no more than six calves per pen, making it easier to regularly observe the animals with one or two glances per pen.
•Healthy calves can tolerate quite cool conditions as long as they are protected from draughts and provided with a dry floor on which to lie.
•There are many types of flooring in calf pens and there is little difference in calf performance provided they can rest in a clean and dry location.
•Routine cleaning and sanitising of all feeding equipment is essential to maintain good calf health. The WATCH principle should be used when cleaning utensils and they should be allowed to dry completely before reuse.
•With the potential of many diseases being passed on from calves to humans, it is important to supervise children closely in the calf shed and ensure they wash their hands and faces before eating.

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pp. 73-90
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Milk feeding of calves
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This chapter discusses the diversity of decisions that have to be made when planning the milk feeding program for replacement heifer calves.
The main points in this chapter
•The nutrients from liquid feeds can be supplied though whole milk, colostrum (and transition milk) and/or calf milk replacer (CMR).
•If calves are to drink milk from a bucket or trough, they will have to be individually taught how to drink. Calves will instinctively suck from a teat.
•Automatic calf feeders are a new innovation in calf rearing, but are expensive and require a re-evaluation of pre-weaning calf management.
•The more milk fed, the less solid feeds consumed, the longer time to weaning and generally the more expensive the pre-weaning feeding program.
•Milk temperature, frequency of feeding, feeding mastitic milk and labour requirements are additional issues to be considered in planning milk feeding programs.
•Multiple suckling on nurse cows (continuous or restricted) is an alternative way to rear dairy replacement heifer calves on milk.
•Dairy farmers in Asia often successfully combine restricted suckling with hand or machine milking.

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pp. 91-108
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Calf milk replacers
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This chapter discusses the considerations to make when deciding on a calf milk replacer (CMR) feeding program.
The main points in this chapter
•Despite their convenience when milk feeding calves, very few tropical dairy farmers use CMR as an alternative to feeding whole milk.
•Very cheap CMRs are all too frequently of poor quality.
•CMR must be made from quality ingredients and various visual criteria can be used to assess its overall quality.
•The fat and protein content of CMRs can be used to quantify their nutritive value relative to whole milk.
•This should be used to decide on cost relative to the value of whole milk.
•It is important that farmers understand the mixing strengths when preparing CMR for feeding calves.
•Milk-fed calves require about 500 g/day of milk solids.
•CMR and whole milk behave differently during digestion in the abomasum, so require different feeding protocols.
•If fed too frequently, CMR can lead to abomasal-induced milk bloat.
•CMR can also be used to boost the concentration of whole milk.

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pp. 109-120
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Solid feeds for milk-fed calves
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This chapter discusses the ingredients and the formulation of solid feeds for milk-fed calves.
The main points in this chapter
•Calves have high requirements for energy and protein. When purchasing calf-rearing concentrates, they must be formulated for the calves’ requirements and not for those of milking cows.
•When formulating such a ration, it is important to obtain accurate analyses of energy and protein contents of the ingredients.
•Concentrates and drinking water should be made available from the first week of milk rearing. Milk-fed calves should be offered fresh concentrates every day.
•Ideally, limited roughages should be offered during the milk-rearing phase to stimulate rumen development.
•Calves can be successfully weaned off milk when consuming 0.75–1.0 kg/calf/day of concentrate.
•Weaned calves should weigh at least 70 kg and be seen to be ruminating.
•The 12-week live weight for Friesians can vary from 85 to 125 kg, depending on milk intake and the success of the transition phase from milk to solid feeds.
•A realistic target for Friesian heifers is 95–105 kg at 12 weeks of age.
•Specially formulated calf concentrates are not readily available in many Asian countries, so farmers should enrich existing cow milking concentrates with additional protein.

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pp. 121-130
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Disease prevention in calves
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This chapter describes the clinical symptoms of the major calf diseases and the first aid and nursing during the calf’s sickness and convalescence.
The main points in this chapter
•There will invariably be some calves born dead or will die pre-weaning. In developed temperate dairy systems, excluding abortions, 7–9% of calves are expected to die between birth and 3 months of age, although when well managed, the norm is 2–4%. However, a range of 15–25% pre-weaning mortality would be typical on many tropical dairy farms.
•The best way to maintain calf health is to ensure an adequate intake of colostrum immunoglobulins within the first few hours of life. Prevention through adequate colostrum intake is far more effective than cure by drugs.
•The two major diseases of calves are scours and pneumonia, which account for 80% of all calf deaths. Bloat, navel-ill, accidents and poisoning make up the bulk of remaining mortalities.
•The cause of scours in calves under 21 days of age is difficult to determine. There is usually not one single cause, but an interaction between calf management, diet, the environment, poor immunity, and the presence of pathogenic viruses and bacteria.
•Most of the scours can be controlled through good management and appropriate preventative measures.
•Pneumonia is a problem with housed calves, particularly when stocking density is high and ventilation is poor. Control is mainly through improved housing.
•Clostridial diseases, such as pulpy kidney, can be easily prevented through a routine vaccination program.
•Internal parasites are less of a problem with housed than grazed calves.
•Sick calves can be most easily recognised through changes in behaviour. They are more likely to be culled for poor performance later in life. Keeping records will assist with decision making on their future.
•In the event of a veterinary visit, there is much the dairy farmer can do to prepare for it and to care for the convalescing calf.
•Because calves are the class of dairy stock most susceptible to diseases, every effort should be made to maintain a healthy shed environment. Developing an effective biosecurity program, which restricts high-risk visitors, is an integral part of good calf management.

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pp. 131-158
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Communicating with the calf
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This chapter describes how to interpret the wellbeing of a calf from its behaviour and appearance.
The main points in this chapter
•Calves give many signals that indicate that they are in good (or poor) health and quick observations by the rearer can help treat any disease conditions early.
•It is important for rearers to form bonds with their calves so the calves will cooperate more fully, particularly following treatment for diseases.
•It is important for rearers to develop their own ‘dictionary of calf language’.
•Rearers should learn to closely observe and interpret changes in both calf appearance and in their normal behaviour, which might be symptomatic of stress.
•Calf scours comes in many forms and colours, all of which can be used to help diagnose a cause.
•It is important to understand how calves react to people so that rearers’ management practices can be changed accordingly.
•Farm owners and managers should communicate with their calf rearers.
•Developing a set of standard operating procedures, and writing them down, can help maintain consistency in managing and training new staff in the desired skills of calf rearing.
•Contract calf rearers can provide the right motivation and skills to rear calves better than staff on the home farm.

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pp. 159-176
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Post-weaning management of dairy heifers
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This chapter discusses the benefits of well-grown dairy heifers and the growth targets and feeding programs to produce them.
The main points in this chapter
•All too often dairy farmers do a good job with rearing heifer calves up to weaning then virtually neglect them thereafter.
•The rearing of heifers can be divided into two stages: from weaning to first service and from first service to calving.
•Undersized heifers have more calving problems, produce less milk, have greater difficulty getting back into calf and compete poorly with older cows for feed.
•Because they are still growing, heifers will use some of their feed for growth rather than for producing milk and are more likely to be culled for poor milk yield and/or infertility.
•There are many published targets for pre- and post-calving live weights (hence growth rates), body condition, wither heights and first lactation milk yields, but these have all been developed for temperate dairy production systems. There is little information on tropical dairy systems.
•There is little doubt that heifers will not achieve the same growth performance in the tropics as they would in temperate dairying areas, although they may achieve similar mature live weights.
•Realistic in-calf target weights for first calf dairy heifers on tropical dairy farms should be of the order of 350 kg (for Zebu and crossbreds) to 450 kg (for grade Friesians). However, from anecdotal evidence, most tropical dairy farmers are not achieving such targets.

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pp. 177-194
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Mating and calving management of dairy heifers
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This chapter discusses the optimum management of dairy heifers during mating and their first calving.
The main points in this chapter
•The key decisions when mating dairy heifers are: what age and weight should they be and what type of mating (natural or artificial) should be used?
•Mating heifers at too low live weights will lead to reduced fertility and more calving difficulties. Mating pure or crossbred Friesians weighing less than 260 kg will lead to more calving difficulties, as will mating Zebu dairy-type or Jersey heifers at less than 200 kg.
•‘Catch up’ feeding after mating often results in heavier calves at birth, overconditioned heifers and more calving problems, with little improvement in milk yield during the first lactation.
•A herd of 100 cows generally requires the rearing of 20 to 30 heifer replacements each year. Bulls (or semen) must be selected on ‘ease of calving’ to reduce potential calving difficulties.
•Natural mating of heifers is easier than artificial insemination (AI) and running heifers with a bull for 9 weeks can lead to good pregnancy rates, provided the heifers are actually cycling.
•AI will provide greater scope for selection and genetic improvement in the dairy herd, but it requires a higher level of skill in heat detection and insemination. Natural mating is often required after AI to further increase conception rates.
•Heat detection aids can be used, such as tail paint, pressure-sensitive heat mount detectors, vasectomised bulls or hormone-treated steers. Heat synchronisation also reduces the time required for heat detection.
•Sexed semen can produce 90% heifer calves in a well-managed breeding program. However, in addition to its considerably higher cost, conception rates are lower than with conventional semen (40% versus 50% with virgin heifers).

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pp. 195-212
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The business of calf and heifer rearing
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This chapter discusses the importance of documenting all the costs of calf and heifer rearing to be able to prioritise efforts to reduce those that are most expensive.
The main points in this chapter
•Calf rearing is not cheap and producers who try to cut costs will eventually pay for it in the long run.
•Feed costs are generally the most expensive component in calf rearing, but when considering them, it is essential that all existing and alternative feeds are compared on an equivalent basis, such as their supply of dry matter or feed energy.
•An example of costing feeds in the tropics is provided for feeds available in Malaysia.
•A second example is provided for various milk feeding systems in Vietnam.
•The full cost of calf disease is more than just the costs of drugs and veterinary care.
•The full costs of young stock management include variable costs in addition to feed and animal health, and fixed or overhead costs, such as labour, depreciation and sourcing farm finances.
•It is not good farming practice to underfeed replacement heifers. Delayed calving, reduced milk yields and fewer lactations in the milking herd can be the price to pay if calf and heifer growth rates suffer due to poor feeding management.
•Lifetime productivity is very responsive to well-programmed feeding management during heifer growth and milking cow lactation. However, such benefits can be quickly eroded if animal health problems lead to high mortality and stock turnover.
•Farmers feeding lower-quality diets have more to gain, in terms of higher and more secure income, from reducing mortality and involuntary culling than solely from investing in better feeding management.

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pp. 213-224
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Assessing current calf- and heifer-rearing practices
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This chapter discusses a process to assess current practices and grade farmer skills in young stock management.
The main points in this chapter
•The first step in improving the on-farm management of calf and heifer rearing is to audit the current system (only then will it be possible to develop a modified program to overcome any observed deficiencies).
•The audit can be separated into:
– Peri-natal (pre-calving and first 24 hr)
– Pre-weaning feeding management
– Pre-weaning herd and health management
– Weaning process
– Weaning to first calving.
•The farmer’s skills can also be graded using both objective and subjective criteria.
•A short list of high-priority management skills distils this assessment down to the 10 most important practices in young stock management.

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pp. 225-230
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Conducting training programs on improved young stock management
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This chapter presents a framework for workshops on improved young stock management on small holder farms.
The main points in this chapter
•The target audiences for these workshops can be advisers or farmers, or preferably a combination of the two.
•It is important to develop a clear set of workshop objectives so all participants know why there are there. The key learning outcomes can be selected from this manual.
•Asking participants to complete an expectation form at the beginning and an evaluation form at the end of each workshop, in their local language, helps plan each day’s program and provides valuable feedback.
•Distributing copies of all overheads, translated into their local language, prior to the workshop will improve comprehension of the material as it is being presented.
•With farmers, the emphasis should be on visual images followed by practical examples of poor versus good farm practices.
•Farms to visit should be chosen with a specific purpose, such as to demonstrate a particular farming practice or set of practices.
•Conducting group presentations, where small groups prepare and report back on specific aspects of the program, encourages active workshop participation.
•CalfTrack is a comprehensive training program for calf-rearing staff developed by Pennsylvania State University.
•CalfTrack contains a comprehensive health action plan.
•There are many other technical resources freely available on the internet.

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pp. 231-242
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Best management practices for rearing young stock
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This chapter introduces the concept of best management practice to audit farm practices in rearing dairy heifer replacements.
The main points in this chapter
•A US study of calf rearing recorded ten calf-rearing practices that were closely associated with mortality in milk-fed calves.
•Best management practice and quality assurance are processes for describing and implementing the most suitable procedures for a particular set of tasks to achieve a desirable outcome.
•Essentially it means ‘Saying what you should do’, ‘Doing what you say’ and ‘Recording what you have done’.
•With regards rearing dairy heifer replacements, it can be undertaken by auditing the six major components of any heifer-rearing program. Checklists have been developed for these six, namely:
1. Planning general herd and heifer management.
2. Planning heifer supply programs.
3. Planning heifer care from birth to weaning.
4. Planning heifer care from weaning to mating.
5. Planning heifer mating programs.
6. Planning heifer care from mating to calving.

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pp. 243-255
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Appendices
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pp. 256-265
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Glossary
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pp. 266-271
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References
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pp. 272-275
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Index
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pp. 276-276
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