The First Three Months Are the Most Important.
The best guarantee to raise healthy and productive dairy cows lay in the first three months of the calf’s life. If you are not able to get the most out of this period, the chances for optimal growth and capability of producing and reproduction are reduced significantly.
A mistake some farmers make is that they just look at the costs of milk replacer and wean as soon as possible. In their opinion the calf doesn’t need to grow that much in the first months. They will catch up this growth when they switch to forages and concentrates, these farmers argue.
What you must not forget is that already in the first months the foundation is being laid for the potential of muscle tissue and skeleton growth plus the buildup of resistance against diseases. All this is crucial in the calf’s successful development .
This article shows some more benefits of early growth in the first months, like a younger age at first calving and more milk production during the dairy cow’s life. If you look at all these factors, investing a little bit more in the first months will certainly pay off.
What about veterinarian costs? Everyone knows that treating and curing sick calves will cost you a lot of money. Sick calves are also a threat to the other, in many cases, younger calves. If you are able to raise healthier heifers, the veterinarian costs will certainly be much less.
A calf that has started the first months successfully has developed a good digestive system. This well developed system is able to process forages and concentrates in a more efficient way than a calf that is only beginning its real growth after the weaning period.
By investing a little bit more in the first months, you are able to reduce the overall costs in raising healthy, fertile and productive heifers. Those few extra kg of milk replacer always outweigh the extra forages and concentrates you will need later on to raise your heifers. More information is available in the article about the benefits of calf milk replacer.