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Maximise Growth and Minimise Losses By Thinking About Nutrition During Calving



Preparing for Calving – Thinking Nutrition


Makes Sure You Are On Top Of Your Calving Needs with Mole Valley Farmers


On average, 14.5% of live-born heifers fail to even reach first calving, so every calf born needs gold star attention from day one to help reduce these losses. 


A calf’s ability to convert feed into growth rapidly falls from 50% during the milk feeding period to just 9% by 13 months of age. The pre-weaning period is therefore one of the best opportunities to maximise growth. 



Colostrum not only helps to protect the young calf against disease, but it is also important for growth and development. Furthermore, recent findings suggest that colostrum could help to improve the digestibility of subsequent milk feeds. 


Action: Check the colostrum’s quality with a colostrometer. Remember, a much higher volume of poor quality colostrum will have to be fed to offer the same level of disease protection as a smaller quantity of good quality colostrum. A good level of cleanliness and hygiene is vital; bacteria can double every 20 minutes if colostrum is left at room



Milk replacer 

Milk replacer, together with calf starter, provide energy and protein to support target growth rate, you need to feed sufficient. Remember, grams of feed in will determine grams of growth out. If you target 0.7kg per day of growth, a calf will need at least 700g milk powder per day plus about 700g calf starter.  


Action: Choose the right milk replacer for your system - if feeding calves a higher amount of milk powder for increased growth, then milk replacers with a higher protein content (26%) and lower fat content (16%), Heiferlac for example will help promote lean tissue growth and limit body fat. Alternatively, consider Mole Valley Farmers Multistart with its 22% protein and 17% oil content.


Calf milk replacers vary enormously – the type and quality of ingredients, level of protein and fat, will determine their digestibility in the young calf. Always purchase a replacer from a trusted supplier. Previous calf performance gives the best guarantee of its quality 


Topics in forthcoming newsletters will include ‘What’s in my calf milk replacer’, ‘To invest or not invest in a computerised feeding system’ and ‘Best practice for optimum performance’.




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Newsletter 606

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