dairy calf nutrition milk feeding level method preservation and weaning
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Dairy calf nutrition: Milk feeding level, method, preservation , and weaning. Milk Feeding. At first digestive system is suited to digest only milk As calf matures…system adapts to be able to digest solid feeds

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milk feeding
Milk Feeding
  • At first digestive system is suited to digest only milk
    • As calf matures…system adapts to be able to digest solid feeds
  • First 2-3 weeks are critical for milk intake…very little, to no solid intake occurs
  • Maintain calves on whole milk or milk replacer (min 20% protein 15% fat) until 6-10 weeks of age
milk feeding levels
Milk Feeding Levels

How much should we feed them?

Need to consider what the calf is designed to do…

milk feeding1
Milk Feeding
  • How much is being fed daily in Week 1?
milk feeding2
Milk Feeding
  • How much is being fed daily in Week 4?
how much should we feed them
How much should we feed them?

What does the cow do?

  • Nurses calf 5 - 10 times/d
  • Nursing bouts last 5 - 10 min
  • Provides about 10 kg of milk/d
how much should we feed them1
How much should we feed them?

What does the cow do?

  • Nurses calf 5 - 10 times/d
  • Nursing bouts last 5 - 10 min
  • Provides about 10 kg of milk/d

What have we traditionally done?

  • Feed 2 times a day
  • Provide about 4-6 kg of fluid milk (whole or replacer)
traditional milk feeding levels
Traditional milk feeding levels
  • Traditional calf management programs:
    • Emphasis on use of milk replacer powder containing 20% protein and 20% fat
    • Fed at rates of approx. 400 - 500 g/calf/day.
  • As a comparison, whole milk testing 3.5% fat and 3.0% protein would contain 27% fat and 24% protein (on an equivalent basis)
  • In many instances, particularly in Canada, this level of nutrition may not provide sufficient nutrients to meet maintenance requirements during cold weather.
traditional milk feeding levels1
Traditional milk feeding levels
  • Feeding programs based on feeding 500 g of milk (4L) or milk replacer DM day puts the calf at serious risk for limited or no growth during the first 2 - 3 weeks of life unless environmental conditions of temperature and moisture are optimal
  • Examples:
    • At 32°C, 454 g of a 20:20 milk replacer provides sufficient energy for 45 g gain, yet when temperature drops to zero calves will lose weight.
    • Similarly approximately 4L of whole milk does not provide enough nutrients for gain at 0°C.
increased milk feeding levels for accelerated growth
Increased milk feeding levels for accelerated growth
  • Recommendation now is to feed calves more milk – increase rate of frame growth (not fattening per se)
    • Feed whole milk ad libitum (free access) or at other high levels (8-10+ L/day)
    • Feed more milk replacer
      • 1 to 1.5 kg of powder/day
      • 26-28% CP, 15-20% fat
    • Achieve gains of 1 to 1.5 kg/d of growth pre-weaning
free access feeding of milk to calves
Free Access Feeding of Milk to Calves

10

Calves will drink more milk when they are provided the opportunity

8

6

Milk consumed (kg/d)

4

Conventional

2

Ad libitum

0

0

2

4

Calf age (weeks)

Jasper & Weary, 2002; J. Dairy Sci. 85: 3054-3058.

free access feeding of milk to calves1
Free Access Feeding of Milk to Calves

90

Providing more milk allows for faster growth during the milk-feeding period…

this advantage can be maintained through proper weaning

weaning

80

70

60

Calf weight (kg)

Conventional

50

Ad libitum

40

0

2

4

6

8

Jasper & Weary, 2002; J. Dairy Sci. 85: 3054-3058.

Calf age (weeks)

free access feeding of milk to calves2
Free Access Feeding of Milk to Calves

Higher milk intake slows starter intake before weaning, but will not after weaning

3

Conventional

Ad libitum

2

weaning

Starter intake (kg/d)

1

0

0

2

4

6

8

Jasper & Weary, 2002; J. Dairy Sci. 85: 3054-3058.

Calf age (weeks)

what milk feeding levels is required by and recommended to producers
What milk feeding levels is required by and recommended to producers?
  • Requirement: calves must receive a volume…of milk or milk replacer to maintain health, growth and vigor.
  • Recommended best practice: offer calves…20% of body weight…until 28d…(approx 8L/d for a Holstein)
higher growth rates during the milk feeding phase have long term benefits
Higher growth rates during the milk-feeding phase have long-term benefits!
  • Great weight at calving
    • increased weight gain during the first 2 mo of life results in significantly greater body weight at 24 mo of age (Moallem et al. 2010. J. Dairy Sci. 93:2639-2650)
  • Survivability
    • Heifers that reached second lactation grew more between 12 and 65 d of age than those that did not (Bach. 2011. J. Dairy Sci. 94:1052-1057)
feeding m ore milk increases milk production later in life
Feeding more milk increases milk production later in life!!
  • Study Response__
  • Soberonet al. 2009 1061 kg (1st lactation)

616 kg (2ndlactation)

  • Bar-Peledet al., 1998 454 kg
  • Foldagerand Krohn, 1994 1403 kg
  • Foldageret al., 1997 518 kg
  • These responses were achieved by increasing pre-weaning milk intake by at least 75% over conventional intake
how do we maintain milk quality
How do we maintain Milk Quality?
  • Feeding higher levels of milk increases the risk of bacterial growth in milk available to calves throughout the day
  • Milk quality should be maintained:
    • Use robotic calf feeder which mixes milk at each feeding
    • Pasteurization
    • Limit time availability
    • Acidification
how do we maintain milk quality1
How do we maintain Milk Quality?
  • Pasteurization
    • Reduce disease-causing bacteria
    • Need constant supply of non-saleable milk and/or use saleable milk
how do we maintain milk quality2
How do we maintain Milk Quality?

4h/d

  • Limit time availability?
    • Providing access to

ad libitum milk for 4 h/d vs. 24 h/d

has no detrimental

effects on intake

24h/d

10

Min / h

7.5

5

Time on teat

2.5

0

0

6

12

18

24

von Keyserlingk et al., 2006. J. Dairy Sci. 89:2126-2131

how to maintain milk quality
How to maintain Milk Quality?
  • Acidification?
    • Preserve milk with formic acid
    • Acidification with formic acid preserves milk for storage at room temperature and allows batch mixing at 1-to 3-day intervals to save labour
    • In addition, the milk is fed cool to avoid gorge feeding
how to maintain milk quality1
How to maintain Milk Quality?
  • Acidification to pH 4.0 -4.5 is to preserve the milk/milk replacer
  • Once preserved from growth of bacteria and molds, the milk can be stored at room temperature for several days
  • Proper preservation permits free-access feeding of milk to calves without the need for refrigeration of the milk
  • Acidification decreases a calf’s exposure to bacteria because it decreases the bacterial load in milk or milk replacer
how to maintain milk quality2
How to maintain Milk Quality?
  • Timely stirring of acidified milk assures calves receive a consistent mix when they suckle
  • Since acidified milk gels and separates, timely stirring is essential
  • Vigorous stirring at high rpm for a short duration will achieve excellent mixing
how to maintain milk quality3
How to maintain Milk Quality?
  • Least expensive equipment includes:
    • Electric drill and paint mixer attachment to mix the milk and preservative
    • Container to hold a reservoir of milk
    • Teats on the container or attached to a feeder bar on a wall
  • System may be gravity fed with teats at the bottom of the container or line-fed with teats attached to a plastic line with a one-way valve
how to maintain milk quality4
How to maintain Milk Quality?
  • Free-access feeding systems can be automated with mixers on timers or recirculation pumps to deliver milk from one reservoir to several groups of calves and back to the reservoir
  • In general, acidified milk may be prepared at 1-3 day intervals and the equipment cleaned 2x per week
  • The use of a preservative (acidification to pH 4.0 -4.5) and feeding at a cool (20°C in winter) temperature (to limit intake per meal) are essential to the success of free-access feeding systems
for further information on acidified milk feeding
For further information on acidified milk feeding:

See notes by Dr. Neil Anderson for instructions:

  • http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/dairy/facts/mimick.htm
how should we provide milk to calves
How should we provide milk to calves?
  • By bucket?
  • During each feeding calves spend on average 44 s drinking milk, and 6 min sucking on the empty bucket

Appleby et al., 2001. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci.74:191-201

how should we provide milk to calves1
How should we provide milk to calves?
  • By teat?
    • When provided free access, calves spend on average 47 min drinking milk, and typically spread this feeding time into 6 to 10 milk meals.
    • Teat feeding also increases insulin and CCK levels (good for digestion!)

Appleby et al., 2001. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci.74:191-201

which way of providing milk is recommended
Which way of providing milk is recommended?

Recommended best practice: - provide milk via a teat or provide a dry teat after milk feeding to satisfy the calf’s motivation to suck

feeding milk to calves in groups
Feeding milk to calves in groups
  • Group housing and feeding is possible when calves are fed:
    • Free access (ad libitum) through a teat system
    • Using an automated calf feeder
does group housing not increase the risk of cross sucking
Does group housing not increase the risk of cross sucking?
  • Cross-sucking is very rare among teat-fed calves (less than 0.2% of time) when provided sufficient amounts of milk

Chua et. al. 2002. J. Dairy Sci. 83:360-364.

group housing of calves also helps make calves more successful transitions at weaning
Group housing of calves also helps make calves more successful transitions at weaning
  • Pair housed calves fed ad libitum via a teat showed
    • similar weight gains to individually housed calves
    • show less of a growth check at weaning

1.0

Weight gain (kg/d)

0.5

Single

Pair

0

2

4

6

8

Calf age (weeks)

Chua et. al. 2002. J. Dairy Sci. 83:360-364.

how does milk feeding level affect solid feed consumption and weaning
How does milk feeding level affect solid feed consumption and weaning?
  • For calves with higher milk solids intake it is not unusual for calves to begin consuming calf starter until after the second week
  • Lower starter intake may slow the rate of rumen development, which has been assumed to contribute to calves "stalling out” (having a growth check) when weaned from milk
weaning survey results
Weaning – Survey Results
  • How are calves weaned off milk?
    • Abruptly stop feeding  22% (191/849)
    • Decrease volume  29% (249/849)
    • Dilution of milk  37% (311/849)
    • Intermittent feeding 12% (98/849)
      • Combination of methods  93
  • How is the time of weaning decided?
    • Calf age  812
    • Calf weight  293
    • Starter/grain intake  454

*often this is a combination*

weaning age survey results
Weaning Age – Survey Results
  • 5 weeks or less  2.4% (21/863)
  • 6 weeks  12% (101/863)
  • 7 weeks  9% (77/863)
  • 8 weeks  36% (311/863)
  • 9 weeks  10% (86/863)
  • 10 weeks or more  31% (267/863)
how best to wean calves fed higher levels of milk
How best to wean calves fed higher levels of milk?

90

  • Conventional
    • ‘Cold turkey’
    • Simply remove milk
    • Too much of a growth

check at weaning

weaning

80

70

Calf weight (kg)

60

50

40

0

2

4

6

8

Calf age (weeks)

slide38

Calves used to consuming high quantities of milk are typically not consuming sufficient dry feed at weaning to maintain growth

    • Conventional ‘cold turkey’ weaning is NOT appropriate
  • Solid feed intake needs to be encouraged in the 1-2 weeks prior to weaning
    • Milk needs to either be:
      • Diluted
      • Reduced in amount
slide39
Recent research comparing weaning calves fed and weaned conventionally to those fed a higher milk level and stepped down

Khan et al., 2007. J. of Dairy Sci. 90:3376-3387

slide40
Solid feed (calf starter) intake increased before and after weaning in calves fed through step down method

Khan et al., 2007. J. of Dairy Sci. 90:3376-3387

slide41

Improved weight gains were observed in calves fed through step down method…NO growth check!

Khan et al., 2007. J. of Dairy Sci. 90:3376-3387

take home m essages
Take Home Messages
  • Providing milk in sufficient quantities to maintain health and growth is key to long-term calf health, welfare, and productivity
    • Feed calves minimum of 20% of body weight in first 4 weeks of life
  • Providing milk by a teat is the most appropriate method of milk delivery
  • Milk quality is important and needs to be maintained to prevent bacterial growth
  • Calves should be weaned off milk gradually to ensure proper transition to solid feed
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