A successful calf rearing programme is the basis of every healthy, high performing herd, whether finishing cattle or raising dairy cow replacements. Scours and respiratory disease continue to be major causes of calf sickness in New Zealand. In addition, not all calf sheds are purpose built and ventilation can be limited increasing the risk associated with these challenges. It is in the housing period where the risk of respiratory disease is increased, however with the right support, these challenges can be mitigated.
Many of the pathogens that cause illness are present in virtually all farms, meaning calf health depends on the interaction between the calf, its environment, and its management.
Good calf management starts with colostrum which forms the basis of disease control for the newborn calf. New-born calves are born with a completely naïve immune system so are dependent on ingesting and absorbing antibodies from their dam’s colostrum for protection from disease. Antibodies absorbed from colostrum will protect the calf for around six weeks. However, it takes up to eight months for the immune system to fully mature, meaning good nutrition, including a focus on minerals and vitamins, is key to encouraging immune development during this period. Research has shown that calves receiving the correct levels of trace elements before weaning are heavier at weaning and stay healthier throughout their lives. Higher levels of trace elements also help increase feed intake, improve feed conversion efficiency and daily liveweight gain, supporting physical performance as well.
A youngstock rearing programme should target growth rates of at least 0.7kg/day from birth in order to reach 55% of mature bodyweight at bulling (by 13-15 months for 22-24 month calving); for breeding heifers or 200kg liveweight when moving beef cattle onto growing diets. To achieve this, the development of an efficient rumen and hindgut is fundamental. As well as improved digestion, the gut is one of the first lines of defence against pathogens so gut heath also plays a fundamental part in helping keep calves and youngstock healthy.
MAXX Calf Health is a controlled intake molasses lick block developed specifically for calves and youngstock containing unique ingredients proven to support animal health, immunity and growth.
MAXX Calf Health contains a yeast fermentation product, Dimond V XPC, proven to show consistent beneficial effects on daily liveweight gain, feed conversion efficiency, ruminal and intestinal development and support stock through respiratory disease and scouring episodes. Minerals, vitamins, and trace elements are included to complement starter and rearer pellets and to help support immune development, metabolism and growth. Zinpro Availa® zinc is added, as it is proven to help support gut integrity as well as immune function and response at times of stress such as scouring and respiratory disease. In addition, natural decongestants from plant extracts and essential oils help support a healthy respiratory system during periods of stress or mild and damp weather such as autumn housing.
MAXX Calf Health is suitable for all dairy and beef calves from 2 weeks of age through to breeding or moving fattening cattle to finishing rations. It is formulated to be used alongside existing starter or rearer rations.
MAXX Calf Health is a dedicated calf health product, which can help support health and growth during the critical rearing period without changing their feeding system and gain the benefits to support long-term productivity in all cattle.
Submitted by Vanessa Lilly, Animal Nutrition TSR Hauraki, Eastern BOP, East Waikato