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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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

  • 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

How much should we feed them?

Need to consider what the calf is designed to do…


Milk Feeding

  • How much is being fed daily in Week 1?


Milk Feeding

  • How much is being fed daily in Week 4?


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 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 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 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

  • 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

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 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 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?

  • 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)


Does feeding calves higher levels of milk 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 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?

  • 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 Quality?

  • Pasteurization

    • Reduce disease-causing bacteria

    • Need constant supply of non-saleable milk and/or use saleable milk


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?

  • 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 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 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 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 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:

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?

  • 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 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?

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

  • 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?

  • 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

  • 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?

  • 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 off milk


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

  • 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?

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)


  • 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


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


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


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 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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