Dairy farm Große Kintrup to rely on new calf management
Intensive rearing for long-living dairy cows
Diarrhoea, ringworm, influenza – Tobias Adler knows how childhood diseases can affect calves. Four years ago, the herd manager of the Große Kintrup dairy farm in Münster-Handorf was facing too many diseases, making for a difficult start in life for his youngest mentees. Together with Dominique Jeske, AGRAVIS Calf Special Advisor, and Elias Schulze Lefert, AGRAVIS Cattle Special Advisor, he then developed a new management system for calf rearing step by step. Today, calf losses are at just 1.8% and veterinary costs for calves are next to nothing.
“We have carefully examined each step in the system and turned some inside out,” said Tobias Adler, looking back. Colostrum management was changed first: A calf’s first meal is colostrum from the suckler cow. “We’ve always done it that way,” explained Adler. “But now we test the quality of each cow’s colostrum. If the quality isn’t high enough, they get a tube of Miravit Oramun Plus.” Dominique Jeske added: “This supplement feed provides new-born calves with additional immunoglobulins, iron, and vitamins when the quality or quantity of colostrum is inadequate. This makes the animals more resistant to illness.”
Ad libitum feeding
Another important change was carried out with the introduction of ad libitum feeding: In the first three weeks of life, the calves receive ten litres of whole milk a day. The bucket hangs in front of the igloo day and night so that the calves have access to milk at all times. With a calf board on every box, the herd manager checks how much milk has been drunk several times a day. For a better supply of iron, Miravit MilkIdeal is stirred into the milk – a total of 100 grams per animal per day. “The use of supplement feed in whole milk feed is a must, in particular for a sufficient supply of iron,” the advisor explained. “We have discovered that it helps cows develop better and be more energetic and agile,” adds Adler. The calves also have free access to water and Combikorn Kälbermais from the very beginning.
From full milk to milk replacer
After 21 days of ad libitum whole milk feed, the animals are switched to Combimilk Spezial milk replacer, and receive eight litres in total each day. “We switch relatively early because the calves go to farms in Greven and Ahaus,” explained Adler. “This means they are already used to the milk replacer when they are rehoused and we don’t create additional stress by changing the food.” They are still given Combikorn Kälbermais for a few weeks. The animals get used to grass and corn silage later. Strict hygiene management is also part of the operation. This means that the calving pens are mucked out after every fourth calf, or at latest after 14 days, and are given fresh bedding each day. The calf igloos also receive fresh bedding each day and are cleaned and disinfected after each calf. Each calf also has their own bucket. This keeps exposure to germs at a minimum.
Long-living dairy cows
After two years, the young animals return pregnant. “When the animals begin lactating, we see how fit they really are,” explained AGRAVIS Special Advisor Elias Schulze Lefert. “The farm lays the groundwork for this, starting from their first day of life. Experiences from the Große Kintrup dairy farm show that intensive calf rearing pays off, especially when the female calves are used to restock the dairy cow herd. It means the farm can count on strong, healthy, and long-living dairy cows in their stalls.”
Tobias Adler is happy that the system is maturing. “We have seen significant improvements since implementation: the calves have fewer illnesses, they develop better, and are energetic dairy cows later on. Each individual step is important to us, but how they all come together is even more important; the appropriate products and great advice create a visible and measurable result.”
Contact Dominique Jeske for information, tel.: +49 (0)173 729 3226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.