Monitoring the live-weight of dairy heifers and thus meeting weight-for-age targets is regarded as one of the most important aspects of a heifer rearing enterprise as it optimizes future production. This is particularly important in pasture-based heifer rearing systems where growth is non-linear due to seasonal variation in grass growth and quality. Data were collected throughout the rearing period to estimate the live-weight of pasture-based Holstein-Friesian (n = 130) and Jersey (n = 57) dairy heifers using linear body measurements. Live-weight was regressed on heart girth, body volume and a polynomial of body length, heart girth, and withers height; all equations were validated within-herd. All three equations were accurate predictors of live-weight for pasture-based dairy heifers (R² > 0.92 and RMSE < 19.1 kg), therefore, in the absence of weighing scales, live-weight can be successfully predicted using linear body measurements. The equation which utilizes body volume of the heifer is proposed as the most suitable predictor of live-weight.
- Linear body measurements