Modern calf rearing: sensible and planned
Think about tomorrow’s herd, today
Long-living, strong cows – that’s every dairy farmer’s wish. As well as healthy hooves, a clean udder, and a needs-based feed, well thought through, planned calf and heifer rearing is very important for the future herd.
Systematic, well-planned calf rearing reduces the rate of losses to well under 10% if the environment (hygiene, light, air, water) allows. This means that more strong, young heifers are available. If care measures for the hooves and udders are also intensified, and feed is optimised in the first 100 days, the restocking rate is also reduced. Every dairy farm also needs to think about how to best sell surplus animals. One interesting option is the use of sperm that is classified according to sex.
In the future, the best cows will be inseminated by dairy stock (German Black Pied/HF) in the hope of a heifer calf. For lower quality animals, a meat breed will be used (such as the Belgian Blue) in the hope of a bull calf. These bull calves are used in the trade for feed production and are relatively well compensated. In the future, the farm would then only keep the cattle they need for their own restocking. Given the new fertiliser ordinance, a low first calving rate for an equally low restocking rate is an interesting option.
Modern calf rearing
Modern, sensibly planned calf rearing is as follows: After birth, the calf is given three to four litres of colostrum in the first two hours. Over the next few days, the colostrum/whole milk is not rationed; the calf can drink as much as it would like. A daily average of 10 litres of milk feed is offered in the first three weeks (5 litres per meal). But, one litre fewer in the first week, one litre more in the third. Weaning from milk begins around three weeks in, and calves are weaned after ten to twelve weeks. After the colostrum phase, whole milk can be used together with the Miravit MilkIdeal supplement or the CombiMilk Galant milk replacer.
In addition to milk, the calves also receive a dry TMR (total mixed ration), freely available (recommendation: 20% chopped straw, 75% CombiKorn Kälbermais, 5% Miravit MaltoDrink). Calves can only properly use silages after two months. If the calf group is inhomogeneous, the silage is permanently offered next to the dry TMR (buffet feed). AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG has gathered recommendations on the care of young cattle until calving in a plan.
Ventilation in the calf barn
Air quality in the calf barn has a special meaning with modern feed. Intensively reared calves eat huge amounts of feed and have an intense metabolism; they tend to sweat. This means that proper ventilation is important. Pressure ventilation has shown itself to be effective in recent months. This method provides fresh air directly into the stall through a hose or pipe with holes.
For questions on this topic, contact Klaus Bürsken, tel.: +49 (0)172 530 6363, firstname.lastname@example.org, the advisers at the AGRAVIS compound feed companies, or the free CombiMilk hotline: +49 (0)251 682 1133.