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

Dairy calf nutrition:Milk feeding level, method, preservation, and weaning


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)


Does feeding calves higher levels of milk have long term benefits

Does feeding calves higher levels of milk have long-term benefits?


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 off milk

Weaning off 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)


Dairy calf nutrition milk feeding level method preservation and weaning

  • 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


Dairy calf nutrition milk feeding level method preservation and weaning

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


Dairy calf nutrition milk feeding level method preservation and weaning

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


Dairy calf nutrition milk feeding level method preservation and weaning

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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