Calf-feeding insights

Farmers rearing calves had the opportunity to learn about the safe and unsafe methods of calf feeding last week.
Newtrition Solutions director Grant Richards, of Tauranga, was brought to Southland by Udy’s Grain and Feed manager Ross Norman and Aakland Chemicals manager Nigel Blackler.
The Southland men met Mr Richards at the Southern Field Days and thought the community would also benefit from his insights.
The calf feeding seminar attracted 30 people and was held at the Brydone Community Hall last Friday.
Mr Richards is a nutritionist with 29 years’ experience.
His seminar covered good and bad feeding methods and what practices farmers could implement to get calves to a good weight.
Mr Richards said the main points in growing good calves were they needed to be healthy at birth, receive adequate colostrum, be fed with good-quality, nutritious feed and a have good weaning management from milk to dry feed to pasture.
He said feeding calves 12% to 15% of their body weight in milk was a good amount for weight gain.
When a calf was moved to dry feed, the recommended amount was 1.6% to 2% of its body weight.
‘‘It’s cheaper to put the weight on them when they are younger than when they are older,’’ Mr Richards said.
He suggested calves be fed milk in the afternoon once a day when they were 10 to 14 days old.
Farmers should be feeding four to six litres of milk per calf per day at 10 days, he said.
He said calves grew better at night and feeding in the afternoon would stop bellowing during the evening.
‘‘It’s all about growth and keeping your animals well fed,’’ he said.
He said there was no preference in feeding calves raw milk or milk powder.
‘‘They can both work,’’ he said.
Farmers could fortify the milk by using Calf Milk Replacer (CMR).
Menzies Ferry farmer Brendon Clarke attended the seminar.
He learnt that calves grew better if they were fed once a day and in the afternoon.
He now feeds his 200 calves meal in the morning and milk in the afternoon.
‘‘We usually feed them in the morning and they burn the energy off during the day,’’ Mr Clarke said.
He said feeding calf meal as opposed to other types of feed such as lucerne and grass was his preferred option.
‘‘It’s a lot better in the calf’s stomach,’’ he said.
He went along to gain knowledge of calf meal and dairy systems.

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