JANUARY 2020 www.irishfarmersmonthly.com grams per day, meaning it would take a long time to achieve the weaning weight or being weaned at a low weight. Water is a vital part of calf nutrition and one that is often overlooked if they are on milk. Ideally, water drinkers should be checked every day to make sure that there is always fresh, clean water available. It is important to remember that milk goes into the abomasum, bypassing the rumen, hence there is no water/moisture to aid the digestion of the calf concentrate in the rumen. Rumen development At InTouch, we do not advise feeding hay or silages to preweaned calves, as this can negatively affect starter intakes. It is reasonably palatable, so a large consumption of this material can lead to ‘pot belly’ calves when the rumen is not developed enough to digest it. The use of 8%–10% of chopped straw as part of the calf concentrate can encourage rumen strength, as well as allowing the concentrate to be fed safely between weaning and grass, or any other changes in diet. The starch in the concentrate will help to drive papillae development. It is also important to make sure any concentrate is highly palatable and dust-free to avoid respiratory issues. Immunity Immunity is another vital element in heifer rearing. Good Feature quality minerals in both the dry cow and calf diets are essential in helping aid the calf immunity as they develop. The inclusion of products such as Actigen® and BioMos® as part of your calf concentrate can support immune function and help in the development of a healthy gut and rumen. It is important to ask your feed supplier if these products are included in your calf starter. Environment Environment is also a crucial parameter when it comes to calf rearing, as it is here that the calf will meet the most challenges in life. As calves spend 80 per cent of their time lying down, it is essential to have a clean and comfortable bed. The fall on the floor of calf lying areas is sometimes not enough to remove moisture or the depth of straw, which should come up around the calf, is often not enough to provide warmth and comfort. By lying on a cold, wet bed, energy will be used for warmth rather than growth, outside of the threats caused by sickness, etc. Calves will need at least 1.1 square metres of lying space up to eight-weeks old, and 1.5 square metres thereafter. Hygiene is also an important factor, and it does not matter whether you are using a bucket, nipple bar or automatic feeder. Often, the volume of milk is blamed for calf scours when it is, in fact, the hygiene around milk feeding. Washing our implements properly and allowing them to dry can go a long way in the solution. IF YOU THINK FORMALDEHYDE OR COPPER SULPHATE IS THE ANSWER THINK AGAIN! Hoofsure Endurance Footbath solution • • • Organic acids and tea tree oil - non-toxic, non-carcinogenic and biodegradable 7% to 19% better results than Copper Sulphate and Formaldehyde respectively The safer, proven alternative *References available on request SPECIAL OFFER Purchase 3 x 20 litre Hoofsure Endurance RECEIVE FREE 5 litre acid resistant sprayer Contact Whelehan Animal Health on (01) 468 8900 PROVITA EUROTECH Ltd. 21 Bankmore Road, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, BT79 0EU Tel: +44 (0)28 8225 2352 Fax: +44 (0)28 8224 1734 FREEPHONE 0800 3284982 Email: info@provita.co.uk www.provita.co.uk 27