Every day, producers strive to maximize the efficiency of their milking cows. Often, this includes adjusting and balancing nutrition and animal health to support the adult cow, but are you raising an optimal calf that will later become a productive milking cow?
An optimal calf can be defined as a calf with minimal health issues and maximum growth performance. Every calf is born with their full genetic potential including a maximum potential of their feed efficiency, reproductive efficiency and milk production efficiency. Therefore, every decision made by a producer can impact the growing calf and its future performance as a milking cow.
At day one, we can assume a calf’s genetic potential is at its highest. As the calf grows, they are introduced to environmental factors including weather changes, feed transitions and pathogens that can lead to illness. These can all impact their ability to maintain their full potential. The animal is also influenced by management practices, including nutrition, antibiotic use and hygiene, which can either support or hinder their potential.
The building blocks of an optimal calf
There are four key building blocks that make up the optimal calf. Nutrition is the foundational building block and has the greatest impact on the calf. Beyond this, we must feed to support the microbiome
, as well as immunity and gut integrity.
You only get one chance to raise an optimal calf. Prioritizing a feeding program to support these building blocks in the early stages of a calf’s life is key to setting the animal up for success and helping to prevent future losses.
The moment a calf is born, it is presented with a multitude of challenges that can result in a suboptimal calf. To raise an optimal calf, it’s important for producers to ensure their animals can efficiently absorb the nutrients they need to grow, giving them a better chance at success later in life.
Once a solid foundation is built with proper nutrition, supporting the calf’s microbiome will play a significant role in them becoming an optimal calf. When considering a milk replacer for your calves, consider not only the nutritional value, but how it will support their microbiome.
The role of the microbiome
Calves are born with a sterile gastrointestinal tract, which is essentially a blank slate ready to be populated with microorganisms. The impending population of microorganisms can be good, bad or both, and plays an important role in calf health.
Stress from feed changes, health challenges, antibiotics or other influences can impact the microbiome.
Once an animal’s microbiome is established, it’s difficult to change. The good news? Research shows we may be able to support the diversity of a calf’s gut microbiome early in life with active microbials to help support a healthy, properly balanced population of microorganisms.
Support calf health with active microbials
Active microbials, also known as probiotics, support the balance of the calf’s gut microbiome, a key building block to an optimal calf. Active microbials support the good bacteria in the gut and a strong immune system.
Feeding a milk replacer or balancer that contains active microbials can help keep the gut in balance year-round while supporting the calf during stressful events. However, when it comes to bacteria, there are countless strains in the world, but not all microbial strains are created equal.
What’s your milk replacer doing for you?
Land O’Lakes has tested a variety of formulations, using different nutrient profiles and technology combinations, to develop a portfolio of solutions to help you raise the optimal calf. One key technology in our portfolio is an active microbial strain that helps support both the nutrition and microbiome building blocks essential to raising the optimal calf.
In addition to proper calf care, cleaning and sanitation, feeding products with active microbials such as LAND O LAKES® Cow’s Match®
and Amplifier® Max
calf milk replacers can help support and maintain a properly balanced gut microbiome and support calf health, even during times of stress.
Beyond the benefit to the calf, these products can help simplify the feeding process because our technology package is already formulated into the milk replacer bag. This means there’s no need to add in products separately, eliminating the guesswork and ensuring consistent nutrition to give you peace of mind.
Ready to raise optimal calves on your operation? Talk to your LAND O LAKES representative today.
Learn more about Land O'Lakes Calf Milk Replacers here
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Because of factors outside of Land O’Lakes Animal Milk Solutions’ control, individual results to be obtained, including but not limited to: financial performance, animal condition, health or performance cannot be predicted or guaranteed by Land O’Lakes Animal Milk Solutions.