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There are many different approaches of how to raise and  handle your heifers, some of which will be explained below.  The decision, which is the most suitable solution for your  circumstances will remain for you to take. For those looking to buy a dairy animal it is also important to understand that there are huge differences in management  and a heifer is not just a heifer...   1. Many farmers who only have one or two dairy cows (with very limited space and feeds  available) and the need of very constant cash flow often  opt to sell all their calves right after birth. Their main  objective is to sell all the milk their cows produce to  provide for their own families. After every couple of  years maybe one heifer will be retained and raised to  replace one of the cows. But more often these farmers  are forced to buy a new dairy cow after one of their  adult cows died suddenly or got unproductive. Many times  not much, if any, thought is put into what kind of sire is  used on their cows, only important thing is that she gets pregnant as soon as possible.  You can get a small heifer calf or young heifer at very  reasonable prices from such a farmer. But don’t expect wonders  concerning their quality. There are exceptions of course...   2.  Large scale farmers or ranchers who are lucky enough to have  plenty of space and grazing and therefore have no real  restrictions on the number of animals they keep often turn into  commercial heifer producers. The simplest and most economic  version of this approach is to run a good quality European dairy breed  bull with your  beef herd (Boran). The calves will exclusively be  raised by their dams & later fed through extensive  grazing at very low cost and then sold once in-calf.  Such heifers can be obtained at prices around KShs  100,000/-. But beware, if that heifer’s dam was a  pure-bred Boran production potential will be real  limited although the heifer might look great and be  very healthy and easy to keep. 3.  The latest version to approach No. 2 is to use Boran cows as surrogate dams to implant  high quality embryos produced by high-grade / pedigree European breed dairy cows.  Raising of such heifers is done very economical as described above. They can then  either be sold directly after weaning or when in-calf  themselves. If you have the right facilities and the needed  degree of management expertise this is the cheapest way to  produce large numbers of high quality heifers. Although the  production cost of such a heifer is much lower purchasing one  will cost you about the same amount as in point 6 (or even  more as they are ET or IV bred...). Only advantage is that you  will possibly get a heifer from better genetic parentage then  when natural breeding was used. This technology is still quite  new to Kenya and hopefully once more widely used will reduce  prices of quality heifers to affordable levels. For more  information about this ET/IVF technology approach please contact Indicus LTD 4.  Large commercial dairy farms whose main objective is to sell milk often also produce a  surplus number of heifers. Selling these is a  welcome and often essential bonus to their  economic survival. Most of the breeding is done  by natural service and bringing up their heifers is  often done as low cost as possible. Once those  heifers that are found promising enough to be  chosen as replacements for their own dairy herd  are selected, the rest are sold as in-calf heifers.  If you are able enough yourself or have a good and knowledgeable friend to help you  select, this most likely is where you will get the best value for your money! At the  coast this would be Kilifi Plantations and ADC Kiswani Complex in Malindi.  5.  Abroad (Europe, USA, New Zealand and partly South  Africa) the country’s dairy cow population is often so  uniform in quality and breeding, that most dairy  farmers sell their calves to commercial heifer rearers  right after birth. Later they buy their own or other  farmer’s heifers  back when heavy in-calf, to be used  as replacements for their high turn-over dairy herds.  This has the great advantage that you only feed and  maintain the milking herd and don’t have to bother  with large numbers of young-stock and followers.  Quality-wise all the cows are almost the same and therefore  freely exchangeable.  Now more and more Kenyans are opting to import heifers from abroad. Often the purchase price is negligible  compared to the transportation & bureaucratic expenses  involved. Nonetheless the total landed cost might still be less than No. 6. The greatest concern of this approach is  that these imported heifers are of 100% Bos Taurus  descent and totally naive to all the hundreds of diseases, parasites and environmental challenges they will surely  have to face once having arrived here in Kenya.   6.  And then there are the true breeders... For us heifers are much more than just our  future milking cows. They are genetically the best animals on the farm  and no effort &  expense is spared to raise them. This starts with each heifer’s conception: For each  individual cow the most perfect match out of hundreds of potential sires will be chosen  to produce a calf of maximum genetic potential,  optimum balance and perfect pedigree. Once  born their feeding, vaccination programs (might  have started with the heifer’s dam already!),  growth rates and everything else will be  monitored and matched as close as possible to  optimum levels. Once she has achieved serving  size and age the most expensive and best semen  obtainable, often even gender selected, will be  used on her, as she, being a heifer, will have the  greatest chance of conceiving compared to all the rest of your breeding herd. Now the  waiting game begins... Will she be able to live up to the promise given by her genetics  and breeding? Will your choice of sire be as good  as you thought it to be? Will she have an easy and  uncomplicated calving and let you have her milk  voluntarily? (This being a question in high percent  Bos Indicus breeding only). You will only be able to  see the outcome of many of your choices &  breeding decisions after your heifer has calved,  whether your overall strategy is working or still  needs major adjustments. Every heifer you choose  to sell will deny you this most important insight.  There are a good number of such breeders in Kenya. Heifers raised with so much love,  attention, effort and expenses will sell at anything from KShs 250,000/- to over KShs  500,000/- each, depending on their breed and pedigree. If you are just starting your  dairy farming career don’t even think about beginning your learning years with animals  of such high breeding and quality. You will most likely not be able to provide the care &  management they require. Nothing but heartache & disappointment will be the result.   Conclusion We breed with higher priced semen than any other  farmer in Kenya and have to cope with feeds of extremely  poor quality, which, on top of this, are more expensive  than in most other locations. Our cows have to face  diseases some Up-Country farmers haven’t even heard  about and have to withstand environmental conditions  most of their Up-country relatives wouldn’t survive at all.  Think it through to the logic conclusion and our heifers  would have to cost even more than what was stated in  point 6. In my personal opinion these present prices already are completely unconscionable  (as they are only affordable by the richest), although unavoidable if you really care for  your herd and therefore by all means fully justified.   For us the only solution to resolve this conflict is the decision not to sell any heifers at all. 2017: The year that almost broke us.   As narrated elsewhere we almost didn’t make it through. So many of decades old resolves  and resolutions had to give way, one of them about sales of heifers... For a very first time we selected a good number of choice heifers, from weaning age to  heavy in-calf and put them up for sale. It’s almost breaking my heart to see them go.  But  it’s them or us. So for a very unique opportunity please visit our makitosha.blogspot.com