Growing calves faster

Growing calves faster to weaning


Adjusted Weaning weights (to 1st March) NZRed Eastern European Wap X
Males (kg) 60 65 70
Females (kg) 55 60 67

Factors to consider

Growing calves before weaning

Lactation peaks at approximately 2.8 l/d at 1 to 2 months with a production of 1.6 l/d in March.

Calf demand drives hind lactation

 Energy intake is key

  • The hind can increase her dry matter intake to meet the demands for lactation if feed quality declines                 Energy or protein in lactation

Amount of feed impacts on the hind first

Protein intake is less important

  • The hind can still provide good lactation even at protein concentrations of 12%

Forage intake interacts with feed quality

  • The hind will decrease her dry matter intake if the demand for milk declines due to an increase in forage intake by the calf               How do milk and forage interact
  • The hind may not be able to compensate with some forages, especially when the amount on offer declines
  • Calf liveweight gain may decline if forage quality is below 10 MJME/kg DM  (lower by 100 g/d/MJME)   Impacts of feed quality on calf growth

Triggers and Actions

  • Allow 4 to 5 kg DM/hind of high quality feed for hinds with red calves at foot. Hinds with Wapiti calves should be allowed an additional 1-1.5 kg DM.
  • Aim for pasture covers of 1800+ kg DM for lactating hinds.
  • Incorporating highly palatable species (e.g. forage herbs, etc) in late lactation (February) will encourage calves to increase intake (and hence growth rates), and assist in development of rumen function which will minimise setbacks at weaning.
  • Where high quality pasture is available to support weaner growth, pre-rut weaning and controlled feeding of calves is recommended.
  • If high quality pasture is not available, better calf performance may be obtained from post-rut weaning. However, this may compromise hind condition during mating too much, as it may result in later calving and possibly lower conception rates.
  • Introduce hinds and calves to new feeds before weaning so that calves will make the most of it after weaning.
Chemical topping for pasture quality


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