Early Nutrition 6pp A4:Layout 1


Should calves get hay or straw early on? This depends on the type of starter concentrates that you are feeding. Calves need small amounts of hay or straw. In particular, if fine ground pelleted rations are fed, additional roughage will be necessary for the development of the rumen. However, a high intake of hay in young calves will decrease the intake of the all- important starter concentrates and the calves will develop ‘hay bellies’. In this situation, the rumen is stuffed with hay which cannot be properly digested and ruminal development is delayed. When can I wean calves? The recommendation is only to wean calves after they eat at least 1 kg of starter concentrates per day to avoid a growth check after weaning.This is difficult to assess when calves are housed in groups. The amount of concentrates a calf eats depends on the availability of concentrates and the volume of milk being fed. Assuming that calves have access to clean and palatable starter concentrates from the second week of life and are fed only the minimal required volumes of milk as described above they will usually eat 1 kg of starter concentrates from about 8 weeks of age. If starter concentrates are limited or larger volumes of liquid feed are given this point can be delayed. TIP: If calves are fed milk ad-lib or close to the amounts of milk they would normally drink (for example to make use of over-quota milk or to achieve higher weight gains in an automated feeding system), gradual weaning should not be initiated before the 12th week of life. How should I wean them? Weaning should be done by gradually reducing the volume fed over a period of 7 to 10 days. In calves that are still fed twice a day at this point, this can be achieved by cutting down to once a day feeding. This will lead to an increased starter concentrate intake and avoid a slump in growth rate after weaning. Points to Remember

Milk from cows treated with antibiotics should not be fed to calves

Calves should be weaned when

Feed at least 13 - 15% of calf birthweight in whole milk or high quality milk replacer

For proper ruminal development clean water and proper starter concentrate must be provided at all times

they are eating at least 1 kg starter concentrate

Waste milk should be pasteurised before it is fed to calves

TECHNICALWORKINGGROUP: Ingrid Lorenz – (Chair) University College Dublin, Charles Chavasse – Pfizer, Bernadette Earley - Teagasc, John Fagan – DAFM, Richard Fallon , LiamGannon – Volac, John Gilmore – Vet Practitioner, Ian Hogan – DAFM, Emer Kennedy - Teagasc, John Mee – Teagasc, Simon More - University College Dublin. Technical Working Group Rapporteur: Fionnuala Malone , Animal Health Ireland The contents of this leaflet are based on the following peer-reviewed review article compiled by the AHI TWG on Calf Health: Ingrid Lorenz, John F. Mee, Bernadette Earley, Simon J. More (2011): Calf health from birth to weaning. I. General aspects of disease prevention. Irish Veterinary Journal. 64:10. http://www.irishvetjournal.org/content/64/1/10

Animal Health Ireland, Main Street, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim 071 9671928 www.animalhealthireland.ie email: admin@animalhealthireland.ie

IMPORTANT NOTICE — DISCLAIMER While every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the contents of this leaflet at the time of printing, no representation or guarantee is given, whether by AHI, its employees, subcontractors, agents, distributors or any other person, that the contents of this information leaflet are comprehensive, up to date, or free from error or omissions, nor that the advice provided is appropriate in every particular circumstance. The contents of this information leaflet are not intended to be a substitute for appropriate direct advice from a veterinarian. Appropriate veterinary advice should be taken before taking or refraining from taking action in relation to the animal disease dealt within this information leaflet. If reusing material in this leaflet, please attribute AHI as the source of the information.

Calf leaflet Series Vol. 4, November 2011

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