Feeding extra nutrients to calves in the pre-weaning stage will make them better milk cows down the line, points out Mike Van Amburgh, dairy scientist from Cornell University.

Yet, many farms do not provide enough nutrients above maintenance requirements to optimize first-lactation milk yield.

At the recent Cow Longevity Conference, sponsored by DeLaval, Van Amburgh told about research utilizing the Cornell University dairy herd over the years.

Researchers have analyzed lactation data for 1,244 heifers so far, looking at the birthweight, weaning weight, first-lactation milk yield and several other factors.

“For every 1 kilogram of average daily gain prior to weaning (or at least 42 to 56 days of age), the heifers produced approximately 522 kilograms more milk,” Van Amburgh said.

The pre-weaning feeding program at the Cornell research farm exceeds the maintenance requirement and provides adequate nutrients for growth.