Handling an increase of calves during the summer months; featuring Gary Geisler, Land O'Lakes Purina Feed Calf and Heifer Specialist.
- As summer approaches you may be expecting higher than average births and more calves than your facilities can accommodate. One option to consider would be increasing feeding rate of milk replacer over a shorter time period. To make room for the sudden onset of calves the temptation exists to wean calves earlier. To reduce the negative effects of this earlier weaning, increase the feeding rate of milk replacer so calves get the same amount of total milk replacer in a shorter time. For example, if you are feeding 1.5 pounds of milk replacer per day and weaning at 49 days, consider increasing the milk replacer fed to 1.75 pounds per day and wean at 42 days.
- When increasing milk replacer intake, it is critical to use a step-down weaning process where calves are fed milk replacer once a day for at least a week before completely weaning the calf off milk replacer.
- As always, calves should be continually offered water to encourage calf starter intake. More calf starter intake will lead to optimized rumen development, preparing calves for a smooth transition off of milk replacer and onto dry feed.