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Ensuring All Calves Get the Best Start: Dystocia’s Affect on Early Beef & Dairy Calf Nutrition – event summary

22 February 2017

The future success and profitability of every farm begins with the farm’s young stock.

During this successful meeting, Katrina Henderson, (Veterinary Investigation Officer from SAC Veterinary Services) spoke about the importance of getting colostrum in to calves within the first 6 hours of life. This was demonstrated quite clearly with post mortem examination photos. She highlighted the fact that most calf deaths occur within the first few hours of life & dystocia can play a massive role in this. Katrina also pressed the importance of cleanliness in the calving pen & tubing equipment. There were some very good practical tips for farmers in terms of how much colostrum to feed and temperatures for defrosting frozen stored colostrum.  Katrina’s presentation can be viewed here.

Lorna MacPherson,(Dairy Consultant, SAC Dairy Select) then spoke about calf nutrition particularly focusing on what farmers should look for when buying a calf milk replacer, calf starter and creep feeds (i.e. energy, protein etc.).  Lorna’s presentation can be viewed here.

The main messages that farmers took home from the event was what to look for in a quality milk replacer and calf feed. For example, a milk replacer should have a minimum protein of 20% with protein coming from mainly milk proteins. In addition, another important take home message was the maximum temperature of  at which colostrum/milk powder should be mixed to avoid denaturing antibodies.

Key take home messages

  • Purchase only qualilty milk replacer – it should have a minimum of 20% protein content, coming from mainly milk proteins
  • The maximum temperature at which colostrum/milk powder should be mixed is 40°C, beyond this antibiodies will be denatured

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