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Best Feed For Weanling Calves

author
Bob Roberts
• Sunday, 22 November, 2020
• 8 min read

Bawling for extended periods can irritate a calf’s throat and potentially lead to respiratory challenges. These stressors, paired with a still-developing immune system, can ultimately lead to reduced disease resistance.

cows calves housing farm winter agriland farming stress taking ie gradual period doors while
(Source: www.agriland.ie)

Contents

Here are some tips to get freshly weaned calves eating quickly: Cattle lick tubs can be used as a free-choice supplement in calf receiving pens. Second, licking stimulates weaning calves appetites, prompting them to look for feed and water.

If calves like the feed, they will start eating and continue coming back to the bunk. Use a weaning ration for beef calves with proper nutrition and palatable ingredients.

It’s critical to support the immune system of weaning calves during high stress. The Purina ® starter line with RX3 ® Immune Support Technology prepares a calf’s natural defenses, so it’s better equipped to fight off stress and respiratory challenges.

That paper notes the first two weeks after weaning are critical because stress can be high and calves need to learn how to eat and drink. Oklahoma State Universities A has the advantage of requiring fewer commodities and no alfalfa pellets.

New Mexico research has shown young calves seem less than prone to acidosis than yearlings, and eat concentrated rations very well. Cottonseed hulls were used as the sole roughage source in one ration and a significant portion in the other, since they are extremely palatable.

calves weaned start weaning getting starter
(Source: agpartners.net)

If chopped hay is substituted for cottonseed hulls, molasses should be added to minimize dust. Soybean meal or alfalfa is a preferable protein source over cottonseed meal for young calves, and Layman says the ration labeled Diet B is well tested and favored by producers starting lightweight calves.

The original research suggested three step-up rations, but either A or B work fine until calves get up to about 400 pounds, when they can be turned out on grass or switched to a more traditional growing diet. If coccidiosis is believed to be a potential problem, a cocciostat should be fed at the start of the early weaning period.

If silage and other fermented feeds will be used in an early weaning program, Rick Raspy, University of Nebraska beef specialist, says in another paper on early weaning those forages should be introduced gradually into the diets of young calves that are inexperienced with such feeds. Although they have high nutrition, he says, silage should only be used in limited amounts because the high moisture level and the palatability characteristics of silage make it unlikely calves will consume silage-based diets in amounts adequate to grow at targeted levels.

Oklahoma State University has for several years now maintained a confined-cow operation and therefore has calves on feed. Meaning we have a history of problems if we confine calves in a dry lot during a stressful period for any length of time and don’t include a coccidiostat.

“Similar to a lot of southern Great Plains ranching operations, our primary forage resource is harvested hay. “Consequently, we have used a MR of about 30 to 35% processed prairie or bermudagrass hay, 7.5% liquid feed, and the rest a blend of DOGS and cracked corn.

feed bunk calves weaning yard eating breakfast unusual request bovine behavior
(Source: feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com)

This gives us a palatable diet that is relatively safe in terms of digestive upset (bloat and founder), adequate protein concentration for little calves, will support 2 to 3 pounds per day ADG, and good feed conversion. Feed intake, scours, hair coat, calves consuming dirt or chewing wood and flashiness are things to keep an eye on.

My suggestion would be to limit feed intake once it reaches about 2 to 2.5% of body weight to keep calves from getting too fleshy. In our recent experiments, we pretty much fed the calves about all they would consume just to learn how much they would eat compared to their contemporaries still nursing their mothers.

“Obviously, the nutritional management program requires a lot of iron, and with that comes maintenance and depreciation. We have processed our hay, blended our ration and fed using a truck with a vertical mixer/hay processor.

For vet advice on milk quality, reproduction, young stock, biosecurity, minerals, and farm system management delivered straight to your inbox, sign up to our monthly newsletter below. This is because a calf is born without a fully functioning immune system, and needs to absorb antibodies from its mother’s colostrum across their guts, into the bloodstream.

New Zealand data suggests that pooled colostrum for feeding to newborn calves is highly contaminated and very low in antibody. In fact, only 2% of colostrum samples collected from over 100 dairy farms met antibody and bacteria targets.

archives edenshalefarm
(Source: www.edenshalefarm.com)

You can check your colostrum antibody level easily on farm, by using a device called a Brig refractometer; you can get one from your local Vet clinic. All colostrum collection and storage equipment needs to be scrubbed thoroughly with hot soapy water after each use.

Test buckets, colostrum storage vats and calf feeders are often very dirty and aren’t cleaned properly allowing bacteria to build up. Collect colostrum from cows as soon as possible after calving to ensure antibody levels are maximized.

Stored colostrum for older calves should be kept in a clean storage vat with a stirrer and a loose fitting lid to prevent contamination and bacterial proliferation. You may also like to use a colostrum preservative like Potassium forbade to control bacterial growth if it is to be stored for more than 12 to 24 hours.

Feed calves enough milkCalves need to be fed 10% of their body weight in milk, preferably split into two feeds, until they are consuming enough grass, meal and roughage to meet their energy demands. When young calves are being milk fed, they use only one (the aromas) of their four stomachs; but the aim of successful calf rearing is to develop the calf lumen quickly and to produce a well grown, healthy, ruminating animal.

In order to develop the calf’s lumen quickly, calves need to be offered meal from birth. The hay should ideally be short chopped and offered to calves in small amounts (10-15% of their diet).

Since calf meal is responsible for developing the lining of the lumen, and hay is responsible for developing lumen size and strength and for stimulating rumination; calves need BOTH roughage and grain to prepare them for weaning. When to wean calves Milk should not be withdrawn until the nutrients from luminal digestion of calf starters can provide the protein and energy needs for both maintenance and growth.

If you can buy WSC for less than 8% difference, you are wasting your money paying for processing, and it is healthier. The only reason you would need molasses is to stick all that powder crap left over when they crack the corn.

Thought I better get some info to back this statement up: Here's a comment from an article: “ Runs right through ’em. From Argentina to Alberta, Canada, cattlemen also fear feeding whole corn to their herds, Porch says.

“With hay, about one-third goes out the back end, and we don’t think a thing of it because it’s not yellow,” Porch said. Cracked corn typically costs more because of extra processing, and bigger kernels are easier for cattle to pick up with their tongue, he says.

I have been feeding steers to finish and showing PB cattle for many years. If you can buy WSC for less than 8% difference, you are wasting your money paying for processing, and it is healthier.

The only reason you would need molasses is to stick all that powder crap left over when they crack the corn. Thought I better get some info to back this statement up: Here's a comment from an article: “ Runs right through ’em.

From Argentina to Alberta, Canada, cattlemen also fear feeding whole corn to their herds, Porch says. “With hay, about one-third goes out the back end, and we don’t think a thing of it because it’s not yellow,” Porch said.

Cracked corn typically costs more because of extra processing, and bigger kernels are easier for cattle to pick up with their tongue, he says. In addition, shelled corn has a longer starch release time, and will help cut back on problems with acidosis in the herd, Porch said.

Higher protein after weaning, and even using this as a finishing ration, ending on straight WSC (free choice hay of course). I have a yearling bulls I'm holding back to cover the herd this winter.

I currently have then on about 1% grain, comprised of 1 pound of 45% SBM and the remainder is whole corn. Basically, the only thing that gets grain (corn) is my replacement heifers, show cattle and a few steers I feed out for freezer trade.

“ The primary cause of acidosis is feeding a high level of rapidly digestible carbohydrate, such as barley and other cereals. Acute acidosis, often resulting in death, is most commonly seen in 'barley beef animals where cattle have obtained access to excess feed.

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Sources
1 www.autozone.com - https://www.autozone.com/batteries-starting-and-charging/battery/nissandatsun/rogue
2 - /rebates/welcome