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Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

On October 22 -23, Dutch feed company Nutreco organised its LifeStart dairy calf symposium. During the two days, attendees learned why it is so important to focus on proper dairy calf nutrition and got a chance to visit the Nutreco Ruminant Research Centre in Boxmeer, the Netherlands. A new dairy and beef research farm is being built close by and will be ready in the first half of 2015. AllAboutFeed joined the symposium delegates on a tour to the Kempershof, the current location where innovative research in calf nutrition is being carried out.

Photo

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    The Kempenshof is located in Boxmeer, the Netherlands and is a normal running dairy farm. Nutreco has been carrying out its feeding and calf trials here for many years.

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    The road up that leads to the research farm.

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    Attendees at the symposium wait for the staff from Nutreco to explain the work at the farm. The research team of the Ruminant Research Centre are experts in dairy, beef and small ruminant nutrition.

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    Overview of the farm.

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    Silage, stored at the farm.

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    At the dairy research farm, individual feed intakes are monitored, including the separate intake patterns of concentrates and roughage, both during the dry period and lactation. This research contributes to the development of products, concepts and nutritional models.

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    A Nutreco employee explains the materials used for feed and rumen fluid monitoring and to take manure and urine samples. At the farm, some cows are fistulated. This way, digestion trials can be done and for example pH in the rumen can be measured.

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    The main dairy stall.

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    Jeroen Doornebos from Nutreco explains how the feeders work. They can measure the feed volume and the feed consumed.

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    The cows at the research farm have an average production of 10,000kg milk/cow/year.

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    There are 70 feed boxes in total. When the cow enters the box, the feeding time is measured and how much is eaten. This data helps in understanding feeding patterns.

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    The cows receive grass silage, maize silage and hay.

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    The feed boxes can be easily opened and closed.

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    The tour continued to the calf rearing unit to gain an exclusive insight into the current 5 year R&D trial undertaken to determine the impact of epigenetics on calf to cow productivity

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    Nutreco believes that investing in dairy calf nutrition pays off. The company has therefore developed the LifeStart programme.

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    The key scientific principle behind LifeStart is metabolic programming. Making sure the animal gets enough colostrum directly after birth and feeding ample milk replacer in the weeks to follow pre-programmes the metabolism of a calf to determine her life time productivity.

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    Harma Berends from Nutreco explains the current R&D focus: to determine the long-term metabolic changes that are programmed by higher nutrient supply during the calf pre-weaning period and to define the impact on milk production through successive lactations.

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    Increased growth rates achieved using the LifeStart programme can lower the age of first calving significantly. This increases the potential productivity of the heifer whilst lowering the overall cost of production.

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    Feeding time!

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    Not the conventional storage of the milk replacer, but the bags were on display for the visitors.

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    The buckets are being filled with milk replacer.

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    It has been shown that a higher plane of feed intake pre-weaning, results in better performance at a later stage in life.

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    A total of 70 female Holstein Friesian calves born at the Kempenshof research dairy farm are being assessed in the trial. Each individual calf will be assigned to one of two treatments: low plane of nutrition (total of 30kg of calf milk replacer in an 8 week feeding scheme) or high plane of nutrition (total of 60kg of calf milk replacer in an 8 week feeding scheme).

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    The trial includes a number of key measurement points. The research trial runs till 2018.

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    When the calves spill a drop of milk, these little ones are there to clean it up.

  • Proper feeding of the dairy calf pays off

    The tour has ended at this facility. A new facility is scheduled to be completed in the first half of 2015. It will also be located in Boxmeer, the Netherlands, not far from the Kempenshof. After completion researchers of the ruminant team will have access to a facility with 160 calf places and 80 beef cattle places.

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