Calf Rearing - Exploiting full genetic potential

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Members of the Agritech team recently attended a Calf Performance Conference at the Blanca Research Facility in Spain.

According to Agritech’s Sales Director, John Kenny: “It became clear to me that we are significantly restricting the potential of our calves in this country with the level of milk replacer we feed to them.

“Feed efficiency currently runs at the rate of 60% in a young calf compared to just 7% in a pre-calving two year old heifer,” states John. Although farmers today are well informed about feeding adequate amounts of colostrum to the new born calf in a timely manner, the benefits of achieving maximised weight performance from day two to weaning are far less documented in Ireland.

When a dairy heifer calf is born, its mammary gland constitutes just 1% of its total bodyweight. If the daily live-weight gain of this calf is inadequate up to weaning, this key organ will most likely remain at this percentage.

However, if calf performance is raised up to as near as possible to 1kg per head per day, the cells in this key gland will continuously split and multiply to the extent where the mammary gland will increase to around 2% of the calf’s bodyweight at 9-10 weeks of age.

The long term benefits of achieving a better developed calf at weaning with bigger and stronger organs are proven to deliver significant increased lifetime benefits through increased daily yields and improved disease immunity. It is also now widely accepted that the effects of increased growth pre-weaning on first lactation alone is circa +300 litres milk yield.

Farmers only get one chance in a calf’s lifetime to secure this advantage as John states that that there is no such thing as compensatory growth with this approach to calf rearing.

For further calf rearing advice or to find out more about the Agritech Vitalac Milk Replacer range, contact your local distributor or visit www.agritech.ie.