Health issues can be minimised if calves got a great start on feed in the first 10 - 14 days after weaning. Weaning early also helps to improve calf's performance.
During weaning period, it can get very stressful for the calves. All that stress will definitely make the calf susceptible to diseases. However, if weaned calves start to eat quickly, they may be able to overcome the stress and sickness accompanied by weaning.
Here are some tips to get the freshly weaned calves eating quickly:
1) Use lick tubes
Having lick tubes benefits the cows in two ways. Firstly, the action of licking will help produce saliva which eases any throat irritation from bawling. Next, licking the tube will help stimulates the calves' appetite. This will motivate the cows to look for feed and water.
2) Offer palatable feed
It is important to have palatable feed available for the cows when they start looking for feed.
If calves enjoy the feed, they will start to eat and continue coming to the bunk. However, if the calves find the feed unpalatable the first time, this will discourage them from coming to the bunk.
It is encouraged to use starter ration that includes proper nutrition and palatable feed ingredients for calves. This will help stimulate consumption.
3) Getting the right feed form
The physical form of the feed will have an effect on the feed consumption. Bigger feeds work better for calf starter feed. This is because they are usually softer, thus calves get more every mouthful. This is beneficial for calves that are not aggressive at the bunk.
4) High quality feed
Feeding calves high quality feed is important. Lower feed cost may be tempting but they would most likely be less palatable.
A good high quality, palatable starter will get calves eating during the first 10 - 14 days post weaning. This will help minimise the chances of calves getting sick during this critical period.