Calf Feeds

Why Feed Concentrates to Calves?

During the first few weeks of life, the new-born calf depends on nutrients supplied either from cows milk or milk replacer.  Developing the rumen of newborn calves is one of the most important areas of calf nutrition.  In the past many calf rearing programmes have focused on milk and hay as the main components of the diet, however research shows that introducing concentrates to calves is critical to develop the rumen at an early age.  A calf weaned with a poorly developed rumen will show a tremendous fall in growth performance that can set the calf back for weeks after weaning.

The development of the rumen is mainly influenced by the intake of dry, concentrate feeds.  Research shows that feeding cereals results in benefits in terms of rumen development when compared with feeding forage such as hay.  A product called butyric acid is produced when concentrates are fermented in the rumen and it aids the development of the rumen wall, making it more capable of absorbing nutrients from the feed.  Trials conducted at Penn State University show that calves fed a ration in conjunction with milk have a very advanced rumen function at weaning compared to calves fed milk and forage only.  This has obvious benefits as a result of better growth rates post weaning.  Offering calves concentrate and water from as early as 3 days of age and ensuring that calves are eating at least 1 kg of concentrates before weaning from milk results in improved calf performance after weaning.


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Contact details

Brett Brothers Ltd.,
Co. Kilkenny.
Tel: 056-7755300

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