A healthy calf requires a healthy foetus

Dry cows – Great importance for a thriving and healthy calf

Previously, it was customary to focus on the lactating herd, within the dairy herd. The reason for this is, that the lactating herd, contribute directly to daily financial input.
2. Priority was dry cows, heifers, and calves, as these didn’t  contribute directly to positive daily income.
Whit in the last couple of years, we experience more and more focus on dry cows and calves.

A couple of years back, I wasn’t unseen that dry cows and calves was housed secondary stables, and provided with limited supervision. Luckily this has changed, and in newly built stables dry cows are provided with a special section, to obtain better supervision. These dry cow areas are normally located, where employees pass several times a day, which contributes to better health observations. This is now implemented in the calf sections as well.

Despite better housing facility’s, there is still room for improvement. Providing newborn calves with enough, and great quality colostrum, as well as providing dry cows with the right quality of minerals, specially design for the dry period.
Moreover there’s is a tendency for providing bull calves with the lowest quality milk, this regarding both colostrum and the following milk fed period. This results in weaker calf, which can’t perform an acceptable daily gain, and general health at the vealfarm.

Allocating vitamins and minerals for the dry cow

The calf’s health  status is already affected in the embryonic stage, of the present levels of vitamins and minerals. The dry cows intake of vitamins and minerals, are the only way to adjust level provided to the fetus throughout the entire gestation.
Therefore it isn’t only in consideration of the dry cows requirement for vitamins and mineral, to obtain good health status, and future milk production, but also for viability of the calf at birth,  elevating future immune status, and improve colostrum quality.

To obtain a strong calf, It is of great importance, that the dry cow is provided with natural vitamin E. Another key factor is the trace element, selenium.  For the calf to benefit from selenium, the dry cow must be allocated seleniumyeast, an organic type of selenium. The fetus only benefit from the organic selenium, and the organic form, is seen to improve colostrum quality as well.
Even high levels of in-organic selenium in the dry cows feed ration, will not be beneficial for the calf or colostrum. Other trace element like, Zinc, copper, manganese, provided throughout the entire dry period, shows positive results in calves and colostrum.

Vealfarms – what is possible?

At the calves arrival at the vealfarm, the calves should be integrated fast to the remaining herd, to obtain a strong immune system, to increase production and health.

At farms who mixes their own feed, and provide calves whit vitamins and minerals separately, it is possible to elevated the immune status, by allocating a specially mixed “Welcome – Coctail”. To boost the calves immune system, this supplement should contain natural vitamin E and organic selenium.
Veal farms using pre-mix feed, calves could be allocated a supplement on top of the feed, or in the milk provided for the smallest calves.

Organic selenium should be considered, in herd dealing with mycoplasma, to provide the calves better conditions and improve resilience. It is important to keep in mind, that no vitamin  nor mineral are miracleproducts that would make troubles disappear. Vitamins and mineral provided to young calves, improve immune functions, and therefore increase resilience to a number of diseases, and even toward toxins from contaminated roughage.


December 2017