Dr. Van Amburgh shared two key steps to raising calves right:
- Provide high-quality colostrum right away. It’s no secret: colostrum still remains the essential foundation of a calf-rearing program. Research¹ shows calves not properly fed ample colostrum in a timely manner have a lower average daily gain, experience delayed time to first calving, and produce less milk and milk fat during their first lactation.
- Provide more than the minimum requirements. When we feed calves to supply nutrients above maintenance requirements, we are setting the calf up to be a better lifetime milk producer. A high-energy, high-protein diet through liquid feeds (milk) and starter grain can help calves reach their growth potential, and meet herd goals of doubling weight by eight weeks of age.
Following Dr. Van Amburgh’s suggestions can result in positive, profitable results. Studies¹ have found calves fed on an accelerated growth program produce an additional 1,700 pounds of milk in the first lactation. Even with the increased cost of feeding in an intensive rearing program, this can translate to an additional $231 per animal financial advantage for the dairy producer (at $18/cwt milk), as outlined in Table 1.
Healthier animals, earlier breedings and more lifetime milk production, enhanced calf and heifer growth just makes sense.
View the full DCHA Webinar with Dr. Mike Van Amburgh, “Back to Basics: Health & Economics of Accelerated Heifer Growth.” Dr. Bob Corbett will host a second Webinar titled, “Achieving Maximum Growth Potential of Replacement Heifers through Management and Nutrition” on September 14 at 1:00 PM CDT. Visit calfandheifer.org to sign-up.
1 Van Amburgh M, Soberon F, Raffrenato E, Karszes J, Everett R. Taking the Long View: Treat Them Nice as Babies and They Will Be Better Adults. DCHA Webinar presentation; June 7, 2011.