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Pre-Weaning Management: Rearing for Success with NWF

When beginning to rear calves there are many elements to consider, however, supplying the correct nutrition is arguably one of the most important. This is due to the influence that pre-weaning growth has on heifers as they
enter dairy herds. Correct nutrition at a time when the feed conversion ratio is at the highest in her lifetime is critical to long-term success.

The starting point for any successful rearing unit is a high-quality calf milk replacer (CMR), which in the first 10 weeks of life will be the primary source of energy for growing calves. Growth rates at this stage are important as they influence body weight at breeding (55-60% mature weight) and can impact the heifer’s age at first calving. This has a huge economic impact on farmers as heifers calving down at 24 months will typically have a payback at second lactation. However, calving at 30 months can delay the return on investment by an entire year! In addition, preweaning growth rates influence how much milk is produced in the first lactation and so put simply – getting this growth stage correct is essential to the productivity of a mature cow.

Choosing the correct calf milk replacer for your youngstock enterprise

NWF Agriculture has a comprehensive range of calf milk replacers, formulated to provide outstanding nutrition using precise, high-quality and traceable ingredients, designed to suit all youngstock goals and requirements. Whether whey or skim, 100% dairy protein or LifeStart accredited, we have the perfect product to perform on your farm. In addition to this, all our milk replacers contain Butyrates and Fibosel, which stimulate rumen development and encourage
faster immune response in this critical growth stage.

“I have used NWF Ultra Milk Yellow for a few years now and really like the product. It mixes extremely well, and our calves thrive when they are fed on it. I have used alternative products in the past, but I continue to come back to this product as it outperforms every time. We feed this along with NWF Fusion Calf Pellets to fit with our soya-free status and our calves always look healthy and strong.Mr Hastwell, Kirkby Stephen.

Choosing the correct starter feeds for your youngstock enterprise

Alongside CMR, I recommend feeding a highly palatable calf starter feed from day one. The new NWF Calf Fusion starter pellet is a soya-free pellet that utilises NWF’s unique protected rapeseed meal to support the requirements of soya-free enterprises. Deciding the right time to wean should ultimately be based upon intake amounts, as opposed to calf size and weight. I recommend that calves consume a minimum of 1.5kg of starter pellets per day before weaning, with an ideal 10 week weaning plan aligned to the below graph.

In addition, water should always be provided to young calves for rehydration and to encourage the proliferation of good rumen bacteria. Calves may drink around 0.75L of water per day in the first few weeks and this helps with starter intakes, showing to improve growth rates by up to 38% (AHDB, 2023).

For further information on NWF Youngstock Products, please click HERE.

By Abbey Firman, NWF Northern Technical Specialist

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