Calf rearing: Offer the right food in the right way

The amount of food eaten by a ruminant ruminant depends greatly on the acidity in the rumen. An excessive pH value (alkalosis) and a too low pH value (acidosis) affects consumption negatively. While alkalosis plays an insignificant role in calf rearing, acidosis occurs relatively frequently and prevents good rearing performance. The cause of rumen acidosis in calf rearing lies in the early use of silage silage.

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Omitting silage increases fodder consumption in the calf shed.Calf rearing: Offer the right food in the right way
Omitting silage increases fodder consumption in the calf shed.

In the milk phase and in the weeks thereafter, young ruminants react very sensitively to the administering of silage or total mixed rations (TMR) from the cowshed. The low pH values in this fodder are unsuitable for the young ruminants and can lead to digestive problems. As the forestomach system of young calves is not yet fully developed, the lower pH values from the fodder cannot be buffered sufficiently. The calves overacidify, they suffer from heartburn, feed consumption decreases. As a result, the animals start to eat the bedding and consequently become infected, for example, with coccidia.

The resulting diarrhoea and digestive problems are the frequently attributed to the milk drinks or the milk replacer. The development of the calves is disrupted, the immune system burdened and the susceptibility to tracheal infections increases considerably. As much corn maize as possible in the calf feed help to prevent these problems. The stable starch in the corn maize can certainly counter low pH values from the fodder somewhat, but not fully equalise it.

The AGRAVIS experts recommend not providing too much silage to young calves in the first ten weeks of life. The method of choice is the so-called "Dry TMR for calves". Around 80 percent of calf milk replaceris mixed with 15 percent chopped straw and five percent molasses to form a dry Total Mixed Ration (TMR) and is provided as the sole addidtive together with the milk during rearing. Silage can be provided after a few weeks in addition to the dry TMR. The calf should be able to decide what it wants to eat (buffet feeding).

The "Veltenhofer Kälber TMR" from AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG is a ready-made mixture of clean, short straw and a tasty milk replacer in granular form. The TMR contains molasses, is flavoured and is available in 20-kilo sacks. The high proportion of corn maize provides consistent starch while Agrisan (proprietary rapeseed meal) provides stable protein for high weight gains. These components, the molasses and flavouring are responsible for the very good acceptance of "Veltenhofer Kälber TMR".

More information about this topic is available from your Raiffeisen Genossenschaft and from Heiko Kornahrens, Tel. 0172 . 540 2330, or use the free hotline, Tel. 0800 . 682-1133.