Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Animal and Food Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Joao H. C. Costa

Second Advisor

Dr. Kenneth Burdine


Replacement heifer rearing is critical for the future of the dairy operation, especially to improve genetic merit and maintain herd size. A replacement heifer from the day she is born to the day she calves herself is generally a 2-year investment without potential income. A myriad of options exists on how to manage, fed, and ultimately raise replacement heifers. This study quantifies the costs associated with replacement heifer management decisions from birth to calving related to housing, labor, feed and health. The heifer rearing period can be broken into pre and post weaning sections to allow for more understanding the variation of these different biological time periods. Variation can influence the investment per day and breakdown of resources required from a dairy producer. Total heifer raising cost varied broadly across all management scenarios in our study, with feed and labor consistently representing over 60% of the total cost. After determining the true cost on an individual farm, or providing developed assumed cost for a change in management, producers can better manage current expenses and be more prepared for future investment.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

Funding was provided by Dannon.

Included in

Dairy Science Commons