Higher growth rates in the calves and less diarrhea

Eline Antonides, a dairy farmer in The Netherlands: “Tasty, healthy milk powder guarantees high growth rates and less diarrhea”

The saying ‘Well begun is half done certainly applies to calf rearing. At the farm run by Kees Lekkerkerker and Eline Antonides in Swifterban, nothing is left to chance. They have been using Kalvolac Unique for years. “To name one advantage, the composition of this calf milk is very constant,” commented Eline. “It is easy to mix and very stable. In other words, with no fluctuation in quality. That is exactly what calves need and it helps them grow faster. And they enjoy the way it tastes.”

Satisfied calves

Another reason why the dairy farmers selected this milk powder is that the calves stay fuller for longer. “That means satisfied calves.” At just a few days old, the calves are also provided with fresh water and pellet feed. “It encourages them to quickly take up roughage,” explained Eline, who is also a young cattle ­specialist at Friesland Campina. In that capacity, she regularly shares her knowledge and experience of calf rearing. “Kalvolac Unique provides the calves with the optimum balance of digestion and growth, thanks to quickly digestible whey proteins and the more slowly digestible caseinate. The outcome is higher growth rates in the calves and less diarrhea. Among the range of calf milk powders from Kalvolac, Unique is a premium product,” continued Eline. “It contains a high proportion of dairy proteins that can be fully digested by the calves, and 40% coconut oil which delivers rapid energy and antimicrobial characteristics,” she summarised while identifying one other key ingredient namely IMAGRO. “IMAGRO is a combination of prebiotics, probiotics, and organic acids that support intestinal health.”

Calving at 22-23 months

The success of the rearing program is reflected by the calving age of the heifers, namely 22 to 23 months. “The young cattle grow quickly and develop rapidly. As a result, they can be inseminated young,” is the logical explanation. “Practically all of them become pregnant after just one insemination.” On the mixed arable and dairy cattle farm, all heifer calves are kept. “We have a dropout rate of just 2% and very few lung ­problems. We would therefore be justified in saying that young cattle rearing on our farm is highly successful.”

Hygiene is another success factor

To get back to the youngest calves, besides the choice of the ideal milk powder, what other success factors can you identify? “Hygiene,” replied Eline, without having to think about it for long. “That is one of my real spearheads. It prevents the risk of germs taking hold.” She listed several examples. “Each calf if provided with a new teat on the teat bucket. Once I have finished milking, I always put on fresh gloves when I feed the calves and we thoroughly clean the cubicles where the calves spend their first two weeks, and preferably leave them unoccupied for at least a week.” After two weeks in cubicles, the calves are placed in multiple cages on straw, in small groups. The milk period lasts nine weeks, and once they have been weaned, they move into larger multiple cages. “Still on a bed of straw, of course. Our calves spend the first six months on straw. It does not pay to cut corners with young calves.”

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