Feeding wet calves for optimal growth
This tip comes from Dairy Calf & Heifer Association member Hugh Chester-Jones, Ph.D. professor in Dairy and Beef Production Systems at the University of Minnesota, Chester-Jones, offered some useful tips on feeding wet calves for optimal growth at a recent mini-seminar, which is available in DCHA's video archives at www.calfandheifer.org/?page=FeaturedVideos.
According to the DCHA Gold Standards, newborn calves should double their birth weight by 60 days of age and a frame growth goal of 4 inches. A goal of 1 pound per day daily gain within the first 2 weeks is also recommended. Calf and heifer growers are urged to keep track of the calf's growth using devices such as scales, tape measure and stick measuring.
There are many variables to consider when rearing calves, and there are several that the grower needs to emphasize. According to Chester-Jones, there are five Cs of successful calf rearing:
Chester-Jones further discussed the liquid feeding source option, which consists of whole milk and milk replacers. For growers who prefer the whole milk option, it is essential to make sure there is no contamination after the pasteurization process. When using milk replacer, which is considered conventional, intensive or moderately intensive, there are a few factors for the grower to consider. The nutrient content for milk replacers should range between 20 to 28 percent of crude protein and 15 to 22 percent of fat. If milk replacers are being used for feeding, it is important to limit the use of medicated milk replacers to a 1:1 neoterramycin for 14 days if medication is being used. Last but not least, it is vital to make alternative nutrient additives available.
The volume of liquid feed source should range between 8 to 14 percent of birth weight with 12.5 to 17 percent solids. The feeding frequency for individual calves should be twice daily; multiple meals with group feeding. It is also advised to make any necessary adjustments for cold or hot environmental conditions. Chester-Jones recommended increasing milk solids and volume during cold weather. However, in hot weather conditions, emphasis should be placed on water intake.
For Calf Starter Intake Benchmarks at University of Minnesota and the pre-weaning and post-weaning chart, refer to the complete mini-seminar titled "Feeding Wet Calves for Optimal Growth."