Feeding management: 2 NEW tips from our rearing expert

You may have read in the previous Kalvonews, that colostrum management, and the milk and weaning period are critical for a long and productive life.

Here another 2 tips from our youngstock ­specialist Coco Bruyere. This time about how to prevent bloat and how to prevent a weaning dip.

Tip 1: Use a thermometer

We advise to dissolve 150 grams of calf milk replacer into one liter of water of 50-55 degrees. In addition to the concentration, the temperature of the water and the finished milk is also of great importance. The temperature of the water should not be higher than 55 degrees, to prevent denaturation of the proteins. “The temperature of the finished milk in the teat of the bucket or the drinking machine should be 40 degrees”, mentions Coco. The esophagus groove reflex responds to suckling, posture of the calf, concentration and temperature of the milk. “If two of these conditions are sub-optimal, milk may enter the rumen which can cause gas formation due to the fermentation of lactose. This may result in bloat. “So use a thermometer to regularly check the temperature of the milk”, she advises, “as we often underestimate how much the milk cools down between preparation and the actual feeding”.

Tip 2: Stimulate the intake of concentrate and roughage

To wean calves without a growth dip, it is important that they learn to eat enough concentrate and roughage during the milk period. Offer your calves a special youngstock concentrate from the first week of life onwards. As Coco emphasizes: “This concentrate is fully adjusted to the needs of the calf. It often contains additives that support intestinal health, as the rumen is not yet fully developed”. Make sure as well that calves have access to clean drinking water from day two after birth. When weaning, gradually reduce the milk gift. The calf will compensate for the lower intake of milk with more intake of concentrate and roughage. “In this way the calf keeps growing while making a smooth transition to the next phase in rearing” adds Coco.