Feeding more nutrition in the pre-weaning phase may help set calves up for lifetime success.
What would you do if you knew what the future held? Would you plan differently if you could determine whether your dairy calves were going to be productive cows? Although the future is unpredictable, there are steps you can take to help the future success of your calves.
Feeding more calf nutrition pre-weaning, combined with good management, appears to positively impact immune function, rate of gain and first lactation milk production1
, time and time again.
“Young dairy calves have a tremendous capacity to utilize nutrients,” says Michael Ballou, Ph.D., associate dean for research and associate professor in the department of animal and food sciences at Texas Tech University. “The more we maximize nutritional intake pre-weaning, the more productive dairy calves appear to be throughout their lives.”
Delivering more nutrients before calves are weaned may also translate to better immunity post-weaning. Ballou and his colleagues conducted a study challenging post-weaning dairy calves with Salmonella typhimurium. The study showed calves fed 2.6 pounds of milk solids per day were more resistant to severe inflammation than calves fed 1 pound of milk solids per day.2
“What we are seeing in the research data and on farms is improved immune function and disease resistance in calves fed more nutrition pre-weaning,” says Ballou. “On top of that, these calves have improved average daily gain and feed efficiency.”
The results are clear – feeding more calf nutrition in the pre-weaning phase can help set your calves up for their lifetime. So why leave the future up to chance? Ask your nutritionist about implementing a full potential diet as part of your calf nutrition program.
Feed a full potential diet of at least 2.5 pounds of milk solids in 8-10 quarts of calf milk replacer daily. Feeding this high level of pre-weaning nutrition can help protect your calves’ future and the future of your herd.
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1 Soberon, F., and M. E. Van Amburgh. 2013. LACTATION BIOLOGY SYMPOSIUM: The effect of nutrient intake from milk or milk replacer of preweaned dairy calves on lactation milk yield as adults: A meta-analysis of current data1. J. Anim. Sci. 91:706-712. doi:10.2527/jas.2012-5834
2 Ballou, M.A., D.L. Hanson, C.J. Cobb, B.S. Obeidat, M.D. Sellers, A.R. Pepper-Yowell, J.A. Carroll, T.J. Earleywine et al. 2015. Plane of nutrition influences the performance, innate leukocyte responses, and resistance to an oral Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium challenge in Jersey calves. J Dairy Sci 98(3):1972-1982.