Newborn calves are key to future farm profitability, therefore it is critical to optimise performance from the earliest stages. In addition to providing a clean, dry and warm environment, an early feeding strategy geared towards rumen development is key to successful calf rearing.

As all farmers know, feeding adequate amounts of colostrum to the new-born calf in a timely manner is crucial. The use of milk acidifiers is now a well-established practice on Irish farms as they promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, while restricting cultures that may cause nutritional issues. However, they are not as effective when it comes to encouraging the development of a large healthy rumen.

Managing digestive changes

To achieve optimum rumen development, it is important to introduce a high energy/protein calf starter ration from approximately 5 days of age, with free access to fresh clean water and high-quality straw. This will ensure good calf growth rates and a healthy well-developed rumen for future life. Bear in mind that once the rumen development process begins at two weeks of age, the subsequent change in digestion and gut function can make the animal highly susceptible to digestive upsets and pathogen challenges. This is where a product like as VITAMEG has many benefits.    

Vitameg is an advanced feeding supplement for young calves. It contains botanical extracts which enhances digestion and stimulates feed intake by optimising the growth of gut microbial flora to outcompete pathogens. Vitameg also contains prebiotic and yeast cell walls, commonly referred to as MOS, which helps fight against bacteria such as E-coli and salmonella. It also has added omega-3 which has shown to improve immunity and disease resistance, thereby preventing infection and stress.

Developing a large healthy rumen at this early stage will encourage the calf to consume large amounts of high-quality forage, i.e., grazed grass and silage.

Through on farm nutritional support, Agritech are available to support farmers throughout the calving season and beyond. To find out more about Vitameg, contact your local Agritech distributor or click here.

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