Introducing Concentrates to Autumn Calves

Early development of the calf is crucial to their overall health in the long term. While many factors limit productivity and longevity in the herd, a well-managed early calf program will set the stage for maximum lifetime productivity. That is why it is important to pay close attention to a calf’s feeding programme.

To encourage extra growth of the calf, it is important to introduce concentrates from about 3 weeks. The components of this concentrate are extremely important and should be high in protein for skeletal development, along with effective fibre for rumen development.

The availability of hay is also a key contributor factor, as it will promote villi growth in the calf’s stomach, which in turn enables the rumen to benefit as much as possible from its feed.

Freshness, texture and digestibility are essential to encourage early intake. Introduce concentrates at 1kg per day for the first month. An 18% coarse ration is highly recommended and increase this up to 2.5kgs after 8 weeks.

Following on from this, calves should move onto a 16-18% cube, feeding up to 3kg per day. It is important to remember that introducing concentrates should be done in a slow gradual manner and it is recommended to do so in a twice a day pattern to aid digestion, feed efficiency and conversions.

Always ensure sufficient clean water; even in cold weather. Offer fresh water as good hydration is also essential for healthy immune function.