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  • Writer's pictureNITARA

7 things you should know about Calf Nutrition before starting a dairy farm

Calf rearing is one of the most crucial aspects of dairy farming. Timely rearing of healthy calf results in a healthy Heifer, which can again appear for the breeding cycle provided you have achieved the right body weight, nutrition, and health of the calf.

Ideally, it is said that if the calf rearing is done right a farmer can achieve 100 kg weight of the calf within 100 days.

In dairy farming, a farm becomes profitable if 25% of its cattle are calves. This process needs to be in continuation raising a good breed of calf becomes a mandate.

Remember your goal is to achieve high-milking cattle but to achieve that you will have to raise your calf right.

In a country like India, where the atmosphere and demographics are so diverse for the cattle, it is very important to have standardization in the calf rearing process. This would help in achieving a good breed of the heifer, thus will help in achieving high production of milk and another good breed of the calf.

But the question arises how?

To answer all your queries regarding Calf rearing here are the 7 tested Mantras for calf rearing done right:

Seven Mantras of Successful Calf Raising

1. Feed Colostrum within 6 hours from birth.

Colostrum or Foremilk is a very important feed for the calf. Colostrum intake boosts the immunity of the calf to fight against diseases. Colostrum is also responsible for the total energy and nutrient intake of the calf. Thus, before serving the colostrum to your friends and family make sure the calf’s requirements are fulfilled.

2. Take a note of the weight

Going ahead all the calculations regarding the calf growth will be based on the weight at the time of birth.

Without fail take a note of the weight, this will help you decide the right nutrient intake for the calf as per its actual requirement.

3. Ensure a healthy diet for calf

Most of the farmers only give milk to the calf. Farmers are ready to give extra milk to the calf- but milk will not fulfill the nutrition requirement of a calf and additional consumption of milk can lead to health concerns like diarrhea. Diarrhea in infants can lead to death.

4. When to start with Starter Feed?

  • You should start with the starter feed from the third week as only milk is not enough.

  • The quantity of Starter feed should be 50g to start.

  • Make sure the minimum protein content in the Starter feed should be at least 22 percent.

  • Meeting the minimum protein requirement is mandated to ensure healthy weight gain of the calf.

5. Remember the target is to grow a healthy rumen and wean

This question generally arises, when to stop feeding milk or when is the right definite time to stop feeding milk to the calf.

There are a lot of myths around it some farmers feed till 4 months whereas some feed till 5 months, but the fact is if the calf starts digesting 1kg of feed-in given a time frame of 3 months that signifies that the growing rumen is healthy. Thus, as a farmer, you should stop feeding milk to the calf.

6. Timely Deworming

Deworming should be started from the first week of the calf. A single oral dose of 10 g piperazine adipate is recommended for the calves preferably in the first week of life to control neonatal ascariasis, especially in buffalo calves.

If you are not deworming, your calf the right way the vital nutrients will be consumed by the worms in the belly. Thus, the nutrient requirements of the calf won’t be fulfilled. This may result in dizziness, health issues, weight loss, constipation, and indigestion at times.

Deworming should be done every month for the first 6 months, thereafter once in three months. The deworming drugs and dose should be consulted with a qualified veterinary doctor. Overdose and under-dose of deworming drugs should be prevented to check the side effects.

One should maintain a proper record to keep updated on the deworming status of the cattle.

7. Never miss a Vaccination Date

To keep the track of vaccination, consult an expert service provider or vet instead of a fellow dairy farmer or reference, maintain the records to never miss. Make sure you are going for regular check-ups to keep the track of the medical condition of the calf. Don’t compromise with any medical requirement of your calf this may result in deficiency or poor health.

Remember, rearing healthy calves will ensure consistent profitability in your dairy farming business in the longer run.

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