As we await the arrival of an ever-superior generation of calves over the coming months, it is now worthwhile to take a closer look at early calf nutrition.
With feed efficiency currently running at a rate of 60% in a young calf compared to just 7% in a pre-calving two-year old heifer, it is clear that our national dairy herd has much more to gain in this area going forward.
According to Agritech Sales Director, John Kenny, “Although farmers today are well informed about feeding adequate amounts of colostrum to the new-born calf in a timely manner, the benefits of achieving maximum weight performance from day two to weaning are far less documented.
“Taking an example of the calf’s mammary gland. When a dairy heifer calf is born, its mammary gland constitutes just 1% of its total bodyweight. If the daily live-weight gain of this calf is inadequate up to weaning, this key organ will most likely remain at this percentage.
“However, if calf performance is raised up to as near as possible to 1kg per head per day, the cells in this key gland will continuously split and multiply to the extent where the mammary gland will increase to around 2% of the calf’s bodyweight at 9-10 weeks of age,” says John.
The long-term benefits of achieving a better developed calf at weaning with bigger and stronger organs are proven to deliver significant increased lifetime benefits through increased daily yields, improved disease immunity and an overall longer life. It is also widely accepted that the effects of increased growth pre-weaning on first lactation alone is circa +300 litres milk yield.
Vitalac Calf Milk Replacer
At Agritech, we understand the challenges of the new-born calf and work with leaders in calf nutrition to bring a calf milk replacer which will encourage the stable and efficient rearing of calves.
The Vitalac Calf Milk Replacer Range from Nukamel offers a well-balanced level of highly digestible fat and protein via carefully selected, high quality ingredients – many of which are sourced directly from Irish farms. These quality ingredients are further enhanced through the use of advanced techniques and technology such as Spray Cooling Technology, which has been proven to increase average daily live-weight gain and concentrate feed intakes.
While feeding a high-quality calf milk replacer is important in achieving growth and development targets, particular attention should also be given to the overall management and environment in which calves are being reared to avoid the onset of disease and illness.