Growing ambitions

Replacement dairy heifers represent one of the greatest opportunities for increased returns on investment within a dairy business.

Capturing the benefits associated with healthy, optimally grown replacement heifers for their breed and age is highly correlated to best practice husbandry and nutrition. The global body of scientific research is clearly showing that the benefits of best practice calf rearing will increase the lifetime milk solids production capacity of your replacement heifers.

Providing the right combination of nutrients to heifer calves begins with appropriate colostrum feeding in the first few hours following birth, then it should remain as the highest priority each day. Calf health must be prioritised to achieve optimal growth rates. Optimal growth rates focus on lean muscle growth and sound frame development, with the first growth goal being to double birth weight by seven weeks of age. This results in early mammary tissue development that leads to optimal lifetime milk production responses to feed consumed. The obvious outcome of optimal kilograms of milk solids per kilogram of feed consumed over the lifetime of dairy stock is a positive correlation to farm operating profit.

Combining milk and starter pellet feeding remains a high priority in the early weeks of calf rearing. Growing calves require feeds of the highest nutrient density due to their relatively low levels of intake and bold targets for average daily gain (ADG). Pellet feeding stimulates early rumen development to ensure that when weaning from milk occurs, calves don’t choke. Pellet intake is also the best measure to use when making decisions to wean calves. Calves need to be consuming more than 1 kg/day of starter pellets in order to meet their nutrient requirements for maintenance and growth once the milk is turned off.

Pellet quality is of paramount importance throughout the different calf growth phases. CopRice has recently undertaken a literature and knowledge review of published research to determine how we can best improve the nutrient balance of our entire calf product range to be aligned with emerging nutrition opportunities. We have embraced a number of proven concepts into our new product range, which is also apparent from our new 20kg packaging.

We utilise only the highest quality cereal grains and protein meals, as they provide the potential for the greatest ADG. This is due primarily to supporting blood glucose production in combination with supplying digestible amino acids, the essential building blocks to lean muscle growth and early mammary development. This is complemented with the right balance of macro and micro minerals essential to skeletal integrity and immune development. We have increased mineral buffering and added a source of live yeast to further support rumen health and dry matter intake. Essentially, we are embracing every nutrient delivery opportunity known to us in order to build the healthiest possible replacement heifers during each phase of growth and development with minimal disease occurrence. This detailed attention to nutrient delivery focus is consistent across our entire calf product range.

When incorporated into best practice calf rearing management systems, the new-look CopRice calf product range can support optimal calf health and growth rates that will help dairy businesses realise their milk solids production ambitions for many years to come.

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