To successfully calve heifers at 22 to 24 months of age, target growth rates of 0.70 to 0.85kg per day must be maintained throughout the grazing season.

Yet with even ideal grazing only able to support 0.2kg per day in 100kg liveweight heifers and 0.6kg per day at 200kg liveweight, supplementation is essential.

Charlotte Ward, KW nutritionist, said: “The alternative is to calve later, which can seem attractive when looking to reduce summer feed costs, but will actually cost more in the long run."

According to Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board figures, a 200 cow herd would have to carry between 22 to 36 extra heifers if calving at 30 months instead of 24 months, depending on culling rate.

And the costs continue to mount up post-calving, older calving has also been shown to reduce fertility, milk yields and survival rates once in the herd.

“You’re better off investing the necessary resources into fewer animals to maintain growth year-round and calve sooner,” Ms Ward continues.

“Additional quality protein is particularly important to support lean frame growth and help avoid excess fat deposition.

"Cost-effective sources include high protein-to-energy ratio moist feeds such as Traffordgold and dedicated youngstock blends like Precision Lifetime Rearer 17.

“Yes, it is a cost, but it’s typically far lower than the cost of extra heifers, lost milk production and higher culling rates.”