Top tips for calf weaning
Successful weaning, says Laura Pattie, PGG Wrightson Technical Expert – Animal Production, relies on the development of the rumen so the calf can easily digest solid food such as pasture and calf meal.
To wean your calves Laura has a few handy tips to share.
Calves, according to Laura, are generally ready to wean once they have met their target weaning weight and are consuming greater than one kilogram of calf meal for three or more consecutive days.
Provide meal, whether a muesli or pellet, for at least a further four to six weeks post-weaning to maintain good growth rates. It is best practice for the meal to include a coccidiostat to help prevent coccidiosis during this high-risk time. The nutrition received through the meal will support growth rates and provide essential nutrients as the calf transitions onto a full pasture diet.
When milk feeding is of a restricted volume, the uptake of calf meal is generally good says Laura. Provide fresh calf meal daily so it smells and tastes good and is attractive for the calves to eat. Don’t forget to supply free-access, fresh water at all times as it supports good meal intake.
If calves are fed ad-lib or high volumes of milk, a step down approach to milk feeding may be required to encourage an increased uptake of meal as calves get closer to weaning. The starch in calf meal is important in developing the rumen so the calf can digest pasture.
To achieve optimal results when weaning your calves, place them in paddock of fresh, leafy quality pasture. Laura advises not to push the calves to graze too low, rather give them the best pasture on your farm. Providing shelter, whether trees or a barn, is important too as it helps protect calves from adverse weather. Remember to supply fresh, clean water. To choose a suitable trough for your farm view our range online here.