How you feed heifers at weaning may set them up for future lameness problems, according to preliminary research from ColoradoStateUniversity.

Researchers collected data from two farms. Farm A weaned calves at 45 days, fed no long-stem alfalfa hay and provided a TMR shortly after weaning. Farm B weaned calves at 90 days, provided long-stem alfalfa hay beginning at 60 days and continued to feed long-stem hay and calf starter through six months of age.

At weaning and one month after weaning, rumen pH was lower and in the “acidotic” range in calves from Farm A compared to calves from Farm B. In addition, one month after weaning, calves from Farm A had three times as many hoof lesions indicative of subclinical laminitis as calves from Farm B.