Improving Early Growth Rates
How Early Growth Rates Be Increased (0-6 weeks)
Regardless if you are rearing a heifer or beef calf, it is highly recommended to go for higher milk replacer intakes in the early period (0 -6 weeks) as this will result in improved feed conversion efficiency as well as better growth rates. Improved early nutrition and growth rates are highly correlated with an increased in plasma IGF-1, a type of hormone which is associated with increased growth rates. This will help support increased disease resistance, improving immunity response and decreased mortality. All these are vital characteristics of a healthy calf.
Here are some benefits of improved nutrition as well as faster early growth:
Due to improved growth rates, there will be earlier bulling and calving.
Increased liveweight at 1 month is associated with reduced mortality to 6 months of age.
Studies also showed that optimising weight at calving will help increase first yield lactation.
Increasing the wither height at weaning and at service will enable for greater rumen capacity in the mature animal. This will help to maximise intake and the lifetime milk yield.
Heifers will be "fit but not fat".
Increasing milk replacer intake
1. Raise the volume of milk replacer offered per feed from 2 to 2.5 or even 3 litres.
2. Use an automatic or computerised feeder to increase intakes.
3. Maintain the volume fed, but increase the concentration gradually, e.g. from 10% to 15% solids.
4. Extend the milk feeding period and wean later.