Weaning calves: concentrate uptake determines end of weaning
Calves are weaned at the age of 8 to 9 weeks. With a birth weight of 40 kg, the weight of a calf at that age has roughly doubled. Concentrate uptake should be around 1 to 1.5 kilos a day towards the end of weaning, otherwise you can expect growth deceleration of three weeks. If the calf is not at this level, then postpone weaning.
Post-weaning dip in calves is difficult to compensate
A post-weaning dip – growth deceleration – through inadequate rumen development is very undesirable. It is very difficult to counteract such growth deceleration periods. Attempts to compensate considerably increase the risk of fatty deposits in a calf's mammary tissue, with all the negative effects that entails.
Encourage smooth rumen development
The foundation for successful weaning without growth deceleration is laid in the first few weeks. Providing water and concentrate from week one ensures the calf enjoys smooth rumen development. This is essential, as after weaning the calf is fully dependent on feed that requires digestion in the rumen. The better the rumen develops, the easier weaning is and the more complete the transition between older calf to dairy cow.
No hay in first four weeks
The rumen develops particularly well under the influence of the starches in concentrates. That is why it is inadvisable to provide hay or other roughage before the age of four weeks. Only when the calf eats its daily portion of concentrate can you begin providing good-quality hay. This is mostly at an age of around four weeks.
Weaning itself is a stressful process for a calf. This can be prevented somewhat by giving a calf milk just once a day for the last seven days of weaning. This ensures a gradual transition and stimulates the uptake of solids. During this period, avoid any extra stress-inducing events, such as dehorning, moving or vaccinating.
Use easily digestible rearing milk
Starting with a easily digestible rearing milk from Sprayfo ensures strong, healthy growth. Sprayfo's Life Start sets Life Performance concept promotes more milk at higher concentrations in the first 4–5 weeks of life. This results in strong growth from the word go, ensuring the calves eat more concentrate faster. This early concentrate uptake results in smooth rumen development, lower stress at weaning, vibrant health and proper development from calf to dairy cow.
When determining the weaning moment, a calf's development is the key factor. In other words, you must decide when the right moment is and not the feed schedule.