Calf Rearing System

Your young stock of today is your future herd:

  • Calves need to maximise their growth rates in order to achieve lifetime performance targets
  • The feed conversion efficiency achieved in the first 6 weeks of life is the best over their whole lifetime. (Ref 1: Economics of heifer rearing)
  • Calf rearing influences the long term performance of the mature animal.
Feed Colostrum

In the first 6 hours of life calves require 3 litres of colostrum

  • This can be achieved by 20 minutes of continuous sucking
  • Colostrum is of most benefit to the calf in the first 24 hours
  • It becomes less valuable to the calf in the following 72 hours
Lying Area
  • Cosy, draught free
  • Clean
  • Well ventilated
  • Eliminate draughts and areas of stagnant air
Feeding – Milk or Milk replacer
  • Mixing rate should be constant
  • Feeding times should be regular
  • Feed volumes should be built up to 2.5 litres twice a day over 10 days
  • Feed milk at body temperature
  • Have access to adequate clean water
  • Use a multiple teat feeder instead of buckets as sucking on the teat is better for calves, it is more natural and leaves less scours and sickness
Introducing fibre and concentrate to young calves
  • Calfage is the ideal solution
  • Introduce from 5 days onwards
  • Allow calves free access
  • The higher intake of solid feed at weaning time ,the easier and less stressful weaning will be for the calf
At what age should a calf be weaned?
  • Calves on Calfage will have conditioned the gut and digestive system to take over nutrient supply from milk
  • At approx. 8 weeks of age calves should be consuming 1.5 kgs of Calfage and then can be weaned off of milk onto Calfage only
  • For this to happen successfully it is important that consumption is at 1.5kgs/head/day at weaning
  • Wean over a 2 week period as it leads to less stress during the weaning process.
What is Eclipse Calfage?
  • Eclipse Calfage First Feed has been developed to set up calves quickly from as early as 5 to 7 days old producing a strong calf with a strong rumen
  • The rumen is the first compartment of the stomach of a cow is not developed in a new born calf
  • In a well developed rumen food is collected and returned to the mouth as cud for chewing
Benefits
  • On a Calfage complete diet calves should suffer little stress, no loss of condition and hence a good healthy performance
  • Ensure Calfage is available ad-lib from here on
  • Ensure free access to water
  • These calves can be weaned off of expensive milk diets onto ad-lib Calfage diet with little or no check in growth rates ( Ref 2: Post Weaning Growth Check) for the next 6 to 10 weeks
Improved Growth weights
  • A healthy start in the calf’s life results in better weight and growth rates, meaning that animals enter the milking herd earlier
  • Leading to a reduction in heifer calving ages
  • It has been proven in studies that heifers that grow faster in the first 65 days of their cycle calve earlier, have higher 1st lactation milk yields, last for more lactation (much more desirable cow) and have less incidence of disease. (Mastitis etc.)
Time Management
  • Is less labour intensive as all feed is given together
  • Calfage is available ad-lib so calves are less likely to be hungry
  • A hungry calf leads to a stressed animal and reduced thrive
Conclusion
  • Calfage rearing system achieves very high cost effective growth rates, and allows for early weaning from milk
  • Calfage is a unique, alkaline, palatable calf feed
Ref. 1 - Economics of Calf Rearing
Zone 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Age Range, days 1-65 66-110 111-158 159-229 230-307 308-336 337-415 416-483 484-546 547-639 640-660
Target BW, kg 80 125 175 250 325 350 390 450 510 590 610
Feed Efficiency, % 56.0 26.0 25.7 17.9 12.0 10.2 9.4 9.2 8.9 8.3 7.3
Minimum Days 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15
Maximum Days 60 60 80 80 80 80 80 80 80 80 80
*Bach et al 2008

  • As seen from the above chart, calves have a much increased energy efficiency early in life
  • In the first 65 days of a calf's life, there is a feed conversion efficiency of 56% i.e. For every 100g of feed eaten there is a 56g increase in Body Weight (BW)
  • This decreased dramatically in the next 6 weeks to 26%.
  • As seen in zone 3, this is almost halved to 25.7
  • Economics need to be balanced with biology and the entire growing phase needs to be considered.
  • A good calf rearing program is the best way to ensure a good return for your investment.
Ref 2 - Post Weaning Growth Check

A calf with an underdeveloped rumen shows up at the weaning stage when the calf typically shows lack of thrive and in some cases become unhealthy due to its inability to digest grains and forages. The calf’s body is not ready to digest and absorb adequate nutrients and energy from the forage consumed and growth rates suffer. This leads to a post weaning growth check. Ensuring optimal rumen development in this earliest phase of a calf’s life is the essential physiological factor in the avoidance of post-weaning check and is something all calf rearers should be conscious of.

Post weaning growth check is influenced by various factors including stress of weaning, depressed appetite due to inadequate rumen development and increased disease incidence (pneumonia).

It makes sound economic sense to have fully utilised this important preweaning phase to adequately develop the epithelial and muscular layers of the calves rumen for this important post weaning phase.