The 10 commandments for healthy calves
Over the next six weeks, over 540,000 calves will be born on beef and dairy farms in Ireland. Farmers at a recent CalfCare event week learned that it is critical to give calves the best start before weaning.
Speaking on the farm of LacPatrick Dairies and Maudabawn Co-op supplier Gerard McNally, Monaghan-based Teagasc Dairy Advisor James O’Donoghue and JP Harkin from Volac told the some 150 in attendance that farmers need to get their calves to double their bodyweight between calving and weaning.
The event was organised by LacPatrick Dairies as part of the Animal Health Ireland (AHI), Teagasc and Volac series of CalfCare events this spring.
“If a calf lands on the ground at 40kg or 45kg then you need to be hitting 90kg or 100kg by the time you’ve weaned them. You need to get there as quickly as possible,” O’Donoghue explained.
“To do that, you need to make sure that the calf is healthy. Calves must get the right about of milk and concentrates to make sure the rumen develops correctly. If the rumen doesn’t develop in the right way then you’re going to have longer-term issues for the calf later in life.
"A healthy calf will day gain about 0.7kg/day so the first 40 days are critical. If they aren’t doing that growth rate in the first 40 days, you’ll be feeding 9kg or 10kg per day when they’re weanlings or yearlings to catch up,” Harkin said.
O’Donoghue and Harkin spelled out 10 key steps for which farmers should abide by in order to have healthy calves hitting their weight targets.
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