Back to Basics - Consistency
Consistency is the hidden “dark horse” of calf raising. At the end of the day when all is said and done, calves crave consistency.
A study conducted at the Nurture Research Center, Provimi North America, showed that calves that received a consistent amount of milk replacer gained approximately 20% more body weight before weaning than calves fed the same average amount of milk replacer, but at inconsistent amounts.
When feeding calves, it is important to deliver the same milk mixture at each feeding. Monitor weight of powder, volume fed, mixing, percent solids, and temperature to ensure the calf gets the same thing each time. It is also important to feed calves at the same time each day.
Consistent presentation of a starter grain is important to encourage early intakes. Molasses and flavoring attractants will help entice the calf to begin eating grain, but ultimately it is important to avoid changing the type of grain that is offered to calves. Changes in smell, freshness, taste, and location of availability may affect how well the calf takes to eating grain.
A consistent schedule is beneficial for calves and employees alike. Doing things in the same order each day allows good habits to be formed and it is less likely that something is left undone. Find a system that works for you and then stick to it! Some farms prefer the following schedule; feeding milk, refilling water buckets, freshening grain, treatments, and bedding. Whatever order you choose; the most important thing is to remain consistent.
Written by: Jarred Kopkey, and Mariah Gull M.S.