Get grass-ready calves in seven weeks

Get grass-ready calves in seven weeks

24 June 2018

The secret to growing bigger grass-ready calves earlier is getting them off to a good start. This means having warm, healthy calves that have consumed colostrum in the first 18 hours along with a specific solid feed that will both grow the calf and the rumen from day one.

Initially, calves are pre-ruminants and can only digest nutrients from liquid. When they switch to highly digestible solid feed and milk is controlled, the rumen develops rapidly. The walls thicken by increasing muscle and epithelium papillae along with an overall increase in the volume.

The old “Least Cost System” of calf nutrition, with restricted levels of milk, 20% crude protein (CP) meal and ad-libitum straw for bulking the rumen (and preventing acidosis) does not programme the calf’s digestive system for a future on NZ pasture.

So what is the best way to grow a calf?

  • Raw milk/a good quality CMR (26% crude protein, 20+ MJME/kgDM), at five to six litres per day. Higher milk/CMR allowances grow the calf well initially, but rumen development will be delayed making the transition to pasture slow.
  • A highly digestible forage-based solid feed supplying 11.5-12.5MJ ME/kg DM and 14-16% CP while still receiving milk and then post-weaning at pasture.

The Solid Feed Solution:

FiberGain® is a new generation, scientifically-formulated calf feed that meets this solid feed requirement. It’s a high-energy fibre/meal made from fresh-cut lucerne and kibbled barley, processed directly from the field. This is the perfect balance of highly-digestible forage and cereal starch, providing the ideal ratio of protein to energy for all calves.

It takes six weeks of high-quality, digestible forage consumption to develop the rumen for pasture.

When calves are fed FiberGain from day one, they are grass-ready in seven weeks, with no weaning check.

Leafy pasture is highly digestible, but the high water content limits the calf’s nutrient intake, causing slow rumen development. Hay/straw are low-value feeds for young calves whose rumens are just developing. Long-stemmed, dry hay/straw also requires excessive chewing to break down and, if chopped, can ulcerate the mouth.

FiberGain is pre-digested by a unique fermentation process, providing the double benefit of fresh-captured barley starch along with rumen-degradable protein.

The starch, when combined with high nutritional forage, provides a balanced combination of fast and slow-release energy while the protein releases amino acids to maximise microbial growth, rumen growth and liveweight gain. FiberGain also contains a coccidiostat (Rumensin®) for the control of coccidiosis, making it an all-in-one combo.

Programming the rumen to get calves onto pasture early can be simple. It’s about meeting the calf’s nutrient requirements with a balanced, highly-digestible forage and energy solid feed to be ready for a future on pasture.

®FiberGain is a registered trademark of Fiber Fresh.

For more information talk to your local Fiber Fresh area consultant, Farm Source TSR or visit your local Farm Source store.

Article supplied by Fibre Fresh