Learning and implementing the calf-rearing basics will ultimately save time, money and result in healthier calves. This was the key message delivered by Dr Gemma Chuck at dairy discussion group in South-West Victoria last year.
Dr Chuck explained that understanding, testing and feeding high-quality colostrum was essential for calves. Using a Brix Refractometer (cost about $45) to test colostrum quality and ensuring that all calves received high-quality colostrum within the first 12-24 hours of life would have a huge impact on preventing disease and increasing production potential of calves.
During the discussion, a number of farmers confirmed they had noticed a significant improvement in the health of their calves by simply testing for and then feeding high-quality colostrum.
Calf rearers needed to review their entire calf-rearing process and understand the key areas, including record keeping, housing, hygiene and feeding programs.
Dr Chuck said when selecting a calf milk replacer, the milk solid requirements of the calf, what was delivered in a milk replacer and using a reputable brand were important.
Tom Newton from MaxCare, which sponsored the day, said when considering feeding additives to calves, they should be used as a supportive measure but not a silver bullet. "Getting the key management aspects of calf rearing right should be the highest priority," he said.
There is no doubt this is a challenging time but understanding and implementing the appropriate calf-rearing processes will ultimately save money, time and produce better calves. D
For more information, contact Tom Newton 0439 773 145.
Article supplied by MaxCare, website www.maxumanimal.com.au.