Calves at weaning

amadfarmer

Member
I have been rearing calves now for around 3 years slowly building up the size of groups i buy. But i have always found that after weening (7-9weeks) they always loose the growth rate they had on milk. Recently the current bunch averaged a DLWG of 1.37kg on milk powder but 2 weeks after weaning this is dropping to around 0.7kg. And this seems to be a common trend i am having. They are on ad lib cereal and concentrate mix and chopped straw and haylage and i have been putting a bit of baled whole crop in front of them this time. Calves would have been weaned over 10 days of once a day feeding at the highest rate of powder mix recommended by the manufacturer at a rate of 3L per feed. I have tried feeding milk different rates too see if this had any impact but i am always getting similar results. it might be perfectly normal for this to happen but reading on here in other threads there are much better growth rates being achieved after weaning.

Any advice will be appreciated thanks
 
We have reared 100s of bought in Calves dairy x and they always check once weaned
its the change over of feed, I think they have to go through that until the rumen has developed, best done by getting the straw into them early, they don't convert hay or haylage very well at pre/post-weaning,I have tried it all over the years, pellets, blends, course mixes, sugar beet etc, but they need time to get going and once they kick in they fly, I always gave ad-lib cake of what they would eat the most of.
As long as they are alive and thriving I wouldn't worry too much, also I have pumped milk powder into them and they do put a lot of weight on, but went back even more at weaning.
 
its something they go through, i'm afraid, could try feeding 1/2 rate for extra week, Do not feed hay/silage at this stage, keep them on straw, farmer near here , finely chops stiff straw, and mixes it in a coarse ration, and reckons they do well.
 
Location
East Mids
Calves have their highest DLWG potential on milk so you will never get the same growth rate as the commendable rates you are getting pre-weaning. I would be wary of too much nice tasty haylage or whole crop at so young an age. If they like it they eat it and they don't eat enough concentrate. Clean straw and concentrate is all they need. We used to change to silage at 20 weeks but now go straw and 3kg of 18% conc all the way to turnout (autumn born calves)
 

Samcowman

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Wiltshire
We have cut the litres but upped the concentration with our calves and they take more cake quicker as a way of filling themselves up. Getting the transition right is key. They are also on a longer wean period 2 weeks roughly.
 

amadfarmer

Member
Would you recommend using a straight concentrate rather than a cereal mix then. I have always been under the impression that the cereals help with the rumen development. I have always got straw in-front of them from the time they arrive and fresh water. Had toyed with the idea of stretching the weaning process out to 21 days to ease the transition. But with the help of a auto feeder
 
We do small numbers but we keep concentration the same and reduce volume of milk, so from full ration to totally weaned over 14 days. They will have a check, as they adjust, but ad lib provin and straw is the best diet, the scratch of the straw is supposed to get the rumen going and provin is higher protein than fodder.
 
a computerised feeding system will help with the change, simply by cutting down the powder use slowly, but you can do that without spending a fortune ! I have blown, hot and cold over, coarse mix, or pellets, over the years, but, have decided that pellets are best, the old cake rep's argument over home mix, or nuts for cows, is correct for calves, there is a correct balance of nutrients, in each nut, coarse mix, although looking, and smelling nice, to us, allows calves to sort the mix, picking out the 'nicest' first !
 
How much concentrate/mix are the calves eating before you wean? I was always taught at uni to start weaning only once calves were eating 1kg for 3 consecutive days, to reduce the post weaning check. Weaning by age could result in weaning calves that aren't used to eating a lot of dry feed, therefore they will have a bigger post weaning check.
 

amadfarmer

Member
They are kept in groups of 6-10 and I am weaning them with around 1.5kg average of concentrate intake for the group. And that being an oat and high protein mix giving me about 18% protein.
 

Agrivator

Member
They are kept in groups of 6-10 and I am weaning them with around 1.5kg average of concentrate intake for the group. And that being an oat and high protein mix giving me about 18% protein.
I would try a proper calf pellet from a reputable feed company. It will be expensive, but it will almost certainly produce better results than your own mix.
 

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109: Monitor Farm takeover

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109: Monitor Farm takeover

Written by AHDB

The first episode in the Farm Excellence series of the AHDB podcast focuses on cereals & oilseeds. The Monitor Farm programme comprises a network of farmers from across the UK and Northern Ireland committed to driving innovation and best practice. They host regular meetings at their farms in which they discuss issues facing agriculture in their...
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