Feeding Tips

Mixing Rates And Feeding Temperature

Calves should receive milk replacer mixed at no less than 125g in 875 ml water to make 1 Litre of mixed milk, depending on the type of milk powder protein and fat levels mixing rates can be increased up to 150g – 175g (always seek advice from your calf rearing specialist / follow the instructions on the bag).

Milk should be fed at the same temperature every day we recommend feeding our products at body temperature of 38 °C. Always feed the youngest calves first which ensures their milk is the right temperature.

Calf Rearing Teat Feeders

How Many Feeds Per Day Do My Calves Need?

Calves should receive milk replacer a minimum of 2 x feeds a day at the correct mixing rate.

Once a day feeding can be carried out once the calves are over 3 weeks of age and in good health. Please consult your Calf Company representative for an individual feeding plan.

On a Computerised Feeding system calves can be fed up to 6 x a day please follow manufactures feeding plans.

Batch Sizes

The batch size the calves are kept in very much depends on the age grouping and the feeding system. Calves being fed using a computerised system can be kept in batches of up to 25 calves.

Bought in calves should be kept in batches of no more than 10 calves, for at least the first 14 days this will reduce stress and reduce the spread of disease. Take a look at our selection of calf housing here.

Clean Straw And Water

Ensure water troughs are clean. It is good practice to check them every day when the pens are bedded. Straw should always be offered to calves in racks. It isn’t enough to rely on them taking straw from the bedding. Feeding straw in racks increase the intake and reduces the spread of disease.

Post Weaning Nutrition

This is where the work starts managing good nutrition against a rising cost set can be very difficult, from this point the animals FCR begins to fall and feed intakes rise. “As a rule of thumb” animals born after November shouldn’t be turned out until the following spring. Animals that are turned out should be put on clean mown fields this reduces the risk of parasite infestation.

GROWTH TARGETS POST WEANING

Week 2 year calving 2.5 year calving
12 110kg 90kg Weaning
20 150kg 125kg
28 205kg 170kg
36 250kg 211kg
44 300kg 251kg
52 380kg 280kg
60 380kg 325kg Insemination
68 430kg 350kg

Where possible animals should be weighed every 3 months to ensure they are achieving the following growth targets. Ideally, animals should receive their follow on diet at around 9 weeks of age. Beef cattle going onto high cereal diets should be changed onto the following diet slowly to avoid the risk of bloat.

Clean straw and or forage should be freely available. It is important that animals have 24-hour access to clean water. 

Feeding Colostrum

Every dairy farmer is aware of the importance of giving young calves adequate colostrum. The first feed should be in the first 4 hours of life. Immunoglobulin levels in colostrum are very variable please use the guidelines below to establish which is the best colostrum to feed.

How long is it since the animal calved?
The highest Immunoglobulin levels are found in the first few hours after calving.

How long has the animal been in the herd?
Animals that have been on the unit the longest have the greatest resistance to disease’s present on the farm. Calves being produced from heifers should be fed colostrum from a cow that has been on the unit for at least 3 lactations.

What is the annual average yield of the newly calved animal?
The immunoglobulin levels from lower-yielding cows are more concentrated.

How much colostrum should be fed?
As a general rule, the calf should receive at least 3 litres in the first 4 hours of life. And remain on the dam’s milk for at least 2 extra days. However, if the unit has a history of rotavirus the feeding period should be extended to 7 days. Units infected with Johne’s disease should consider putting calves on milk replacer at 24 hours of age. Ideally, all calves regardless of their health status should be taken from the mother at birth and fed colostrum using a teated bottle. This reduces the risk of the young calf contracting disease and reduces the dam’s level of post-natal stress. Ultimately all units producing over 7,000 litres or units that have disease issues with young calves should consider implementing the calf company colostrum check programme.

Feeding Frozen Colostrum

It is good practice to freeze colostrum of good quality. Colostrum check will help establish the quality. Ideally, it should be stored in plastic containers which will hold 3 litres this represents a single feed for a newborn calf. Colostrum should be frozen rapidly and thawed slowly by placing the container in warm water. Take a look at our selection of Colostrum Pasteurisers here