Top nutrition grows winners

Good growth depends on good nutrition.

The best genetics can only be fully displayed if the animal has had every opportunity to develop to its genetic potential.

The animal’s nutrient requirements must be met through each phase of growth to ensure they achieve their genetic potential size by first calving.

Giving a calf the opportunity to develop into a prize-winning cow starts even before birth.

Providing the dam with a well-balanced Lead-up diet prior to calving ensures a greater chance of the calf being born live. Calves will also have greater vitality being born with a good reserve of vitamins and minerals.

Colostrum feeding is critical for early development and cows that have received Lead-up are more likely to produce high-quality colostrum.

Milk, or milk replacer, are the main sources of nutrients for young calves but getting them eating grain early is essential to develop the digestive system.

Starting on a highly palatable textured feed like Calf Muesli can encourage intake early before moving onto a Calf Rearer Pellet.

The feeding of pellets or grain mix should continue until the calf’s rumen size is sufficient to sustain growth from forage alone, this is around 160kg for Holsteins and 130kg for Jerseys.

However, when forage quality is low pellets may need to be reintroduced to maintain target growth rates.

Diets need to be balanced to achieve optimum frame development.

Insufficient energy can stunt growth but high level of fat deposition due to excess energy can bring on early puberty limiting the time available for frame growth.

Protein needs to be of high quality and in the appropriate ratio to energy to encourage muscle growth rather than fattening.

Minerals are important for bone growth to provide the skeletal development required for muscle to attach to. While pellets are being fed mineral supply is usually adequate, but when the diet consists only of pasture or conserved forage, a mineral lick is beneficial.

Purchasing high-quality genetics is a major investment, and a well-designed nutrition program is essential to ensure you optimise the return on this investment.

Contact your local Ridley nutrition specialist if you would like assistance in developing a program.

Andre Nel,

Ridley nutritionist