Improving Early Growth Rates Calf

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.

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