Colostrum management - getting 4+ Litres of high quality, refractometer tested colostrum (>22%) within the first 6 hrs of life will lay the foundations for a long lasting cow. Provide 2nd colostrum feed at 12 hrs after birth. SPRING CALVING
Navel spray and pen hygiene - remembering these are babies with low immunity, the best chance of avoiding set backs is reducing the opportunity for bacteria and viruses to enter the calf.
Consistency - mllk, water, grain and hay. Keep all feed sources clean, fresh and the same each day. Feed milk at the same time, temperature and quantity.
Provide clean water every day, this will encourage starter grain intake as milk does not supply enough water to maintain full hydration.
If they get scours, feed electrolytes with or between milk feeds. Its important to keep food going into them so that they have energy to overcome the illness and stay warm.
Its cold! Feeding 10% more milk to calves will give them that bit more energy to keep themselves warm.
Rumen development - providing grain from day 3 and monitoring for a consistent intake for 3-6 weeks prior to weaning will mean the calf has developed the appropriate rumen bacteria, to get all the energy available from grain when milk is no longer provided.
Provide the same hay in the calf pens that they will have post weaning for a more consistent diet coming off milk. Leave hay with calves until they become used to eating grass. Continue to feed grain where possible until 180 days, when the calf's rumen will be up and running.
Maintaining a balanced diet throughout puberty - the growth and development that occurs in this time can be the difference of being culled in the first lactation or being a top producing cow.
Think of a heifer as a lactation curve, once you drop in production (growth) you may not get it back.
For further information on calf rearing or putting protocols in place on your farm, call one of our ruminant experts and they will be more than happy to answer any questions or provide support.
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