With calving season underway on many farms in Northern Ireland, Dr David Johnston, Ruminant Nutritionist at Fane Valley Feeds, discusses some management tips to enhance calf health and performance during the most critical stages.
It is vitally important that calves receive 3 litres of high quality colostrum within 4-6 hours of birth either through a stomach tube or teat bottle administration, with a further 3 litres within 12 hours. It is crucial to ensure calves receive colostrum early whilst they can efficiently absorb the antibodies essential for immunity as well as the nutrients and energy for growth.
Calves should receive around 15 percent of bodyweight as either whole milk or as a high quality calf milk replacer. A minimum feed rate of 750 g of calf milk replacer is best, (up to 1200 g on accelerated growth programmes) and ad-lib high quality concentrate such as RIGHTStart.
The Fane Valley RIGHTStart Calf range consists of three products, RIGHTStart Calf Starter Pellets, RIGHTStart Calf Grower Pellets and Pedigree Excelsior Pellets. RIGHTStart products include high levels of starch, which has been proven in research trials to improve feed efficiency compared to high fibre feeds. In trials, calves fed RIGHTStart Calf starter nuts were 4 kg heavier at weaning.Target high quality concentrate intake of 2.0 kg for 4 consecutive days before weaning.
>> Target high quality concentrate intake of 2.0 kg for 4 consecutive days before weaning.
>> Offer clean straw for structural fibre to enhance rumen development alongside concentrates.
During and after weaning, stress can lead to supressed immune function. It is imperative to provide a diet complete with high quality protected minerals that are readily digested, to ensure maximum resistance against immuno-suppression. The RIGHTStart calf range includes a protected mineral pack containing both organic and inorganic trace elements including Selenium, Zinc, Copper and a high level of Vitamin E, to enhance immunity.
The inclusion of SafMannan and ActiSaf also helps to boost the immune system, especially at the point of weaning when calves are more susceptible to disease.
Following successful weaning using RIGHTStart calf starter pellets, the transition onto RIGHTStart Calf Grower Pellets will compliment high quality forage intakes and enable effective skeletal growth and muscle tissue development.
The aim should be to have the first calving at 22-24 months (at 85% of mature cow weight), which research has shown increased milk yields through a heifer’s lifetime.
>> Target feed rates for concentrate of 2 kg+ per day alongside quality forage and fresh clean water.
>> Target growth rate (0.75kg/d) from 90 kg-320 kg. This reduces fat deposition in udder tissue and increases yield in subsequent lactations.
>> Target serving weight should be 60% of mature cow weight.
Giving calves the RIGHTStart is key to your business going forward and attention to detail at the early stages will pay the dividends of better lifetime performance and profitability.
For more information, call Dr David Johnston on 07929 86 5118 or contact your local Fane Valley Feeds nutritional advisor to discuss your needs today.