Calf rearing: A guide to feeding muesli and pellets
Along with milk and a small amount of fibre, calf meal is vital for feeding calves from four days old. That’s the recommendation of Laura Pattie, PGG Wrightson Technical Expert – Animal Production. Here, Laura shares her tips on feeding muesli and pellets.
The combination of milk, fibre and calf meal creates a balanced diet for the growing calf. The starch content in the feed helps the rumen papillae develop which is important for the calf to be able to digest pasture. Laura advises the fibre content of the diet should not exceed more than 10% of the calf’s diet. Once calves reach their target weight and are consuming at least one kilogram of calf meal for three or more consecutive days, they can be weaned off milk. It is recommended to provide meal for a further four to six weeks to maintain good growth rates and provide a coccidiostat to help prevent coccidiosis during this time.
During the first couple of weeks of life, calves are developing a taste for meal. When choosing a meal, Laura recommends for faster growth rates and earlier weaning, a 20% crude protein meal is best. Try Gusto 20% Calf Blend. If you’re unsure whether to choose a pellet or muesli, Laura says good quality calf meal muesli or pellets have similar ingredients. A benefit of feeding muesli when introducing a meal is it sticks to the calf’s nose and by doing so encourages the calf to lick the feed, quickly learning the feed is tasty.
One of the main benefits of pellets is that they are highly digestible as the starch is well processed. Laura suggests, if you’re struggling to get calves onto a pellet, one tip is to buy a bag of muesli to sprinkle on top of the pellets. By doing this, the muesli will stick to the calf’s nose and they will realise the meal is palatable and will start eating the pellets.
The most important factor with feeding calf meal is providing fresh calf meal daily so it smells and tastes good. Calves are no different to us in that they don’t want to eat stale food! Remember to supply fresh water to support meal intake too and select a meal that has a coccidiostat as coccidiosis is widely found across New Zealand.
To view our range of calf meal, visit PGG Wrightson’s online store here.