Too many on-farm calf feeding programs still focus on survival and reducing disease incidence through weaning. But there's more to a good program.
Too many dairies follow weaning with a feeding program fostering moderate growth to puberty for maximal first-lactation production. Again, this approach to calf and heifer rearing misses opportunities to capture the greatest lifetime milk yield.
That's the contention of Cornell University Dairy Scientist Mike Van Amburgh. And he has the research on proven better ways. And, he'll be leading a June 7 webinar on "Health & Economics of Accelerated Heifer Growth", hosted by the Dairy Calf & Heifer Association. Dairy farmers are invited to tap into the program via the web.
Nutrient intake from birth to calving has a profound effect on lifetime productivity and the economic outcomes, contends Van Amburgh. His data suggests growth rates from birth to weaning account for as much as 22% of the variation in first-lactation milk yield.
In addition, there is a lifetime milk yield response related to nutrient intake over maintenance up to 49 days of life, showing the milk yield response increases with greater nutrient intake. Bottom line: You can increase lifetime performance through better nutrition and management prior to weaning.
The Webinar begins at Noon, EDT or 1 p.m. CDT. It is free for members of the Dairy Calf & Heifer Association. Non-members may register for a $25 fee.
Amburgh's research program has furthered the understanding of nutrient requirements of dairy calves and heifers and aspects of endocrine control of developmental functions such as mammary development and puberty. He leads the development of the Cornell Net Carbohydrate and Protein System.
For more information, call 877-HEIFERS (877/434-3377) or visit www.calfandheifer.org.