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By Rebecca O’Sullivan
Whether from the dairy herd or the suckler herd, a good start is essential for calves. Correct and timely management of the nutritional needs of your calves ensures maximum growth weights are achieved and healthy calves are reared.
Your new-born calves are born without immunity to disease, and colostrum contains high levels of antibodies which build immunity as well as being a very nutritious feed. According to Animal Health Ireland, 35% of calves that die in the first year of life do so because of inadequate Colostrum absorption! Colostrum should be fed for the first two to three days of life. Later milkings contain much lower levels of these antibodies and your calves’ ability to absorb antibodies decreases dramatically within hours of birth and is virtually zero after 24 hours.
Fresh colostrum from the dam is the preferred option in the majority of cases and pooling of colostrum is not recommended due to the risk of spreading disease on your farm e.g. Johne’s disease.
Colostrum feeding can be summarised by the AHI 1,2,3 recommendation:
1. Use colostrum from the first milking for the first feed.
2. Give colostrum within two hours of the calf’s birth.
3. Give at least three litres.
Your calves should then move on to a high-quality milk replacer and be fed twice daily, ideally at 38 degrees Celsius to ensure your calves continue to thrive.
Successful rearing of your calves requires unrestricted access to:
Straw NOT Hay
Calves should be fed straw as opposed to hay. High intakes of hay can decrease concentrate intake, limiting butyric acid production, and lead to the calves developing “hay/pot bellies”. The level of straw required will depend on the physical structure of the concentrate, with finely ground rations needing more.
Hay is NOT recommended for calves.
Milk replacer offers several advantages over whole milk as a feeding strategy for your calves:
Cost to wean (€)
|Costs assume 6 ltrs of CMR at 12.5% solids for 56 days vs 6 ltrs of whole milk for 6 days|
Better Performance / Less Scour:
Reduces Johne’s Disease Risk:
Imunopro is the base of the Prime Elite range of Milk Replacer. This highly nutritious bioactive complex is a result of Volac’s unique ultrafiltration process, which is a combination of filtration, evaporation and gently sorting milk constituents, proteins, fats and sugars, that are collected at low temperatures from whey. When compared with milk, skim and whey, Imunopro:
The careful balancing of fats, sugars and proteins is done in liquid blend, which ensures that when the product is dried it has a superior homogenised quality with un-denatured whey proteins and natural ‘globular’ proteins retained together in a small fat globule size to support healthy growth and high digestibility levels.
Prime Elite 25 Plus Milk Replacer:
|Feature:||Benefit to You:|
|Imunopro:||High levels of immunoglobulins and complex sugars to promote healthy calves, a healthy gut and reduced scours.|
|Gardion:||Enhances function of immune system and improves gut health|
|Superior Mixability:||Easy to mix in cold water. This is important for automated feeders –mixes at 40⁰C and feeds out at 38⁰C|
|Increased Vitamins and Minerals Levels:||Higher inclusion rates to match calf requirements|
|Digestarom:||Inclusion of Digestarom – (of plant origin) results in decreased scouring and scour severity, Increased milk replacer intake & starter feed intake resulting in increased weight gain & improved efficiency.|
Shop our range of Milk Replacers here and avail of convenient home delivery.
For any more information on the Prime Elite Milk Replacer range or any queries about mixing rates and maximising your calves’ performance, come along to our Milk Replacer Workshops this February from 10am to 1pm, across a number of our stores and meet our Milk Replacer Specialist, Rebecca O’Sullivan.
The Dates and Locations are as follows: