As calf rearers, our aim is to ensure our calves have sufficient energy to fuel their growth and immune system. Calves are no different from any baby animal in that they are very likely to be energy deficient which means that if we are able to give them more energy over and above their current intakes, their short term and lifetime performance will show an improvement. As such, more of the true genetic potential of a calf can be unlocked by providing them with more energy.
Milk is nature's perfect solution for providing calves with energy that they can easily digest and utilise. It is higher in fat than protein and offers an abundance of lactose that our lactose-loving calves can readily utilise. This means that the levels of milk we offer to our calves will impact their early performance: more energy - better performance.
Upper milk limits and dry matter intake.
The volume of a calf's abomasum determines how much milk it can drink on a daily basis and sets the upper limit of its milk intake. If we try and max-out liquid milk intakes to optimise energy levels in the calf, experience shows that we can delay and limit dry matter intakes. Unfortunately, this delays rumen development and can lead to a commercially significant growth check at weaning once the provision of 'easy energy' in the form of liquid milk is removed.
So is our current approach with liquid milk and starter feed the very best we can do for a calf in terms of delivering maximum energy? And is there a way we could offer the calf more energy that doesn't limit but rather stimulates earlier and greater dry matter intakes?
Axcelera-C is being used by farmers to achieve the combined benefits of providing more energy whilst accelerating rumen development through earlier dry matter intake - without changing the existing milk program and starter feed.
The 40% lactose content in the Axcelera-C pellets means that it is recognised by 4 day old calves as 'milk' and will therefore readily consume it 2-3 weeks earlier than a starter feed (which calves don't tend to recognise as feed until week 3). These earlier intakes stimulate rumen development and effectively gain 2-3 weeks of rumen development time.
By providing calves with more energy earlier, it is not surprising to see improvements in calf performance prior to weaning as we unlock more of the calf's true potential.
Farmers are seeing:
- Earlier dry matter intakes and weaning age
- Faster growth
- Stronger growth after weaning
- Reduced use of veterinary medicines
Our calves present us with genetic potential that we can only fully exploit by working with them - giving them the correct inputs at the right stage in their life. For the first 3 weeks, the calf is focused on lactose - so we must optimise its lactose intakes. At weeks 3-4 and beyond it is then able to intake and utilise solid starch and fibre, then we should offer starter feed. So for the first 3 weeks, rather than waste time and money on starter feed that calves won't intake or utilise effectively for energy, offer them lactose in solid form (without changing the liquid milk program) that they will intake earlier and in greater quantities than a starter feed.
This shows how by introducing a 3rd tool to the calf rearer's toolkit to complement liquid milk and starter feed, and by providing more energy to the calf, we can change calf performance and lifetime performance of that heifer.
Looking to wean at 40 days ?
More progressive farmers who want to rear more calves faster through their existing system are also using Axcelera-C to wean at 40 days.