The main objective in calf rearing is to develop the rumen, so that the animal is capable of being an efficient converter of forage into growth and productivity.
It is therefore important to re-evaluate how calves are managed from pre-weaning until the end of the initial 8-12 weeks of grazing.
High-quality lush grass may not be the best forage for supporting rumen development, with calves requiring an optimum level of fibre in the diet to cope with this transition to grazing.
Rumen development of young calves could be hindered by the over consumption of young short leafy grass, with high levels of sugars and protein, with it sudden introduction often coinciding with the weaning process. A number of dairy calves display wasting symptoms post weaning and after turnout due to effects associated with this stressful transition period.
In order to reaching 60% of their mature weight at breeding means that replacement heifers need to achieve a steady gain of approximately 0.75 kg/day from birth. Interruptions to performance during the lifetime of the heifer may offset target weights being achieved.
GAIN Calf Ruminator Blend
GAIN Calf Ruminator Blend is a new 16% premium quality, palatable coarse calf muesli, containing a chopped long fibre inclusion in the form of alfalfa hay. The aim being to provide essential long fibre, within the concentrate feed, during the critical turnout period and transition onto grazed grass, by encouraging the calf to ruminate, therefore increasing performance during and after turnout.
Why fibre is important in a calf’s diet
Recent research conducted by AFBI highlights the importance of fibre in the diet of young-stock. Feeding a chopped fibre provision pre-weaning has resulted in:
- Increased total dry matter intake
- Increased live weight gain post-weaning
- Increased likelihood of achieving target weights
The improvement in dry matter intake in calves fed chopped forage was thought to be directly related to pH in the rumen. Calves offered a chopped fibre provision would have a higher rumen pH, which indicates that rumen health was improved.