Calves grow faster when fed higher rates of a specially formulated milk replacer.

Researchers have found, furthermore, that the growth advantage stays with the animals — they don’t lose it to post-weaning lag. Consequently, animals can be bred sooner and achieve an earlier age at first-calving.

Consider the economics:

  • For every 100 milk cows, 81 total heifers must be on deck if the age at first-calving is 25 months and the cull rate is 34 percent. Using accelerated or intensive growth technology to reduce the age at first calving to 23 months, only 69 heifers are required to maintain the 100 cows — a reduction of 12 heifers.
  • By saving 60 days in rearing cost (assuming $1.50 per animal per day) — plus, the extra income from selling 12 extra heifers calves for $200 apiece — net cash flow is increased by $6,800 after all extra expense is added in.

For more information, see “Consider a more aggressive approach to calf feeding — it pays,” in the January 2003 issue of Dairy Herd Management.