Giving proper attention to young dairy cattle is profitable for the farmer. This has been studied by Dutch animal feed company Agruniek Rijnvallei.
To learn more about the different aspects of rearing dairy cows, two interns at Agruniek Rijnvallei carried out a study, focused on dairy calves between 3 and 24 months. The average growth was 791 grams per day. With a difference of 136 grams per day (17%) between the slowest and fastest growers, it was concluded that there is still much to improve. It was noted that more attention can be paid, especially to calves from three months and older.
From the study it was also concluded that feeding a special concentrate can result in an extra growth of 21 grams per day. For a proper growth, it is also important that the forages supplied are of a good and palatable quality and that these are supplied in a dry area. To prevent struggle at the feed fence, the age different within the group should not be too large. Working with small groups of calves also makes it easier to manage the needs of the animals.
There was no growth difference between the calves over one years old that stayed indoors and the ones that had the opportunity to graze outdoors.
In 2012, a study was done to see whether calves profit from supplying milk replacer (28 to 49 kilograms per calf during the milking period). An extra growth of 31.2 grams was shown. These calves were included in the new study to see whether the growth boost was still there. Almost a year later, it was shown that these calves were still growing 28 grams more than average.
Source: Uniek, publication by Agruniek Rijnvallei, spring 2014