Calf_Calf-Nutrition

Frequently Asked Questions

Calves and Fiber Fresh Feeds

Fiber Fresh feeds are designed to achieve maximum rumen, gut and papillae growth in the primary development phase – the first 12 weeks. Calves retain the gut health developed during this period for the rest of their lives, so it’s critical to get it right.

The feeds encourage natural digestive development, and support the laying down of important primary enzymes, superior papillae growth and a rumen that has a greater surface area than a calf reared on a conventional system. Introduced in the first few weeks, calves are able to transition from milk to grass quicker and easier.

Our fibre-based feeds have the energy of grain, but with high levels of protein, calcium and amino acids, as well as vitamins B, C, D, E and K.

Calves reared on Fiber Fresh feeds are able to transition to grass quicker and easier, reducing the reliance on milk that produces a more adult like digestive system compared to conventional systems.

Scientific and anecdotal evidence has proven that animals reared on Fiber Fresh Feeds achieve better results in performance, growth, long-term milk production, meat quality, breeding potential and overall animal health and well-being.

Early stomach development is absolutely critical as the gut health that calves develop in the first 12 weeks, stays with them for the remainder of their lives. Faster and healthier rumen and papillae growth allows calves to transition from being a milk reliant animal to one that can grow and thrive on grass much faster. Evidence shows us that use of our feeds in the early development phase enhances an animal’s long-term health and production ability.

Anecdotal evidence indicates that calves reared on Fiber Fresh feeds are bigger and stronger with a more efficient digestive system and greater stomach capacity. This results in improved milk production and quality of meat, all of which maximises your return on investment, therefore ultimately benefiting the bottom line.

Initial scientific trials have demonstrated that calves had earlier development when fed Fiber Fresh products, improving rumen development and function and the metabolic development of the calf. We have additional, significant scientific trials underway this year, and expect to release these results later this year.

Ultimately, Fiber Fresh feeds are fibre-based products. We use forage crops such as lucerne, and selected grasses and other crops, which undergoes two highly specialised and innovative propriety processes – Controlled Fermentation and Modified Bio Fermentation. These create High Nutritional Fiber products are exclusive to Fiber Fresh and contain levels of nutrients and energy that is unparalleled in any other forage-fibre products in the world.

There are several golden rules to getting your calves started on Fiber Fresh feeds, which are all about controlling the calf’s early environment to maximise the benefits of your system: warmth, controlling the milk intake (both during the milk and hard feed period), adequate feeding space, “lolly popping”, and restricting pasture with no hay or straw.

We recommend having Fiber Fresh on offer in small amounts during the milk period, to engage the calves’ natural curiosity and to help them get a taste for it. We suggest controlling the amount of milk being offered and the calves will naturally seek out the hard feed alternatives.

Perserverance really is the key and the benefits will be worth it. We recommend “lolly popping” as a good start – it’s a technique that was developed by farmers and we know it works.

You can buy Fiber Fresh feeds direct from your rural supplies merchant or order through your area consultant.

The key difference is that Fiber Fresh products include all the benefits of using hay or straw, ie. “scratch factor” and bulk, but provide additional energy with critical nutrients and vitamins.

The cost per calf is approximately $30 – $35, based on on-farm three pallet pricing.  This cost is comparable with other systems, but with the additional benefits of producing grass ready animals, that are able to digest grass more efficiently at just seven weeks.

Calf has lost the will to live. Suffering from extended pneumonia, scours and/or chronic bloat. Has a slim chance of survival. Isolate. Don’t spend too much on medication. Note star gazing pre-death symptom.

Pain in the abdominal area from twisted stomach, constipation, kidney stones or bloat. Calves on heavy straw lay calf on back and roll side to side. Check dehydration and encourage drinking. Look for mineral salts on the sheath (kidney stones).

Signs of lengthy pneumonia bout. If discharging from the nose and frothy saliva then lung damage is often irreversible. Back may also be arched with calf moaning.

A normal position is curled up with feet tucked under and head along body. Treat suspiciously if not like this. Eliminate stress and potential disease. Isolate calf if necessary.

Don’t ignore. Get the calf up as soon as possible. If it stretches, it is okay. If not, it needs attention. Check pecking order and move into smaller a calf group. Check pen area for warmth.

Look for injured knee, joints or infected navel. Exhaustion from pneumonia or scours indicated with normal temperature could be selenium or vitamin E deficiency.

This is normally fine in warmer weather and may indicate fast growers. Normal is 56/min at 4 days, 37/min at 14 days and 37/min at 35 days of age. Mostly calves will have respiratory problems due to pneumonia.

Suffering from cold stress. Protect against draughts, more bedding, keep them dry. Cold milk may cause this. Check body temperatures if only one or two have symptoms.

Identify previous stress. Eliminate current stress sources. Treat with antibiotic and probiotics including Bio-Mos, Ginger apple cider vinegar and electrolytes as required. Rehydrate the calf.

Salmonella is likely. Temperature rises to 41°C. Calf is weak and depressed. Foul smelling diarrhoea, green with blood. Early treatment is essential for survival but may still do poorly. Increase hygiene. Disinfect thoroughly. Isolate the affected calves immediately. Bio-Mos will help bind Salmonella and E.coli.

 

Abnormal Physical Features

Oesophageal groove does not close completely and milk is leaked into the rumen. Can occur due to rough handling, milk is too cold or too hot, overfeeding or force feeding when abomasum is not sufficiently empty. Calf may be sick or poor quality milk replacer is fed. Using rubber teats or feeding at regular intervals on smaller quantities, after letting calves suck you’re fingers may help.

Gas is accumulating in the rumen. This is normal for some calves and they will get over it. Watch them carefully and check for signs of rumination. Check pH buffers, straw/hay availability and intake. Administer these and/or oils. Adjust calves by feeding lower levels of feeds.

Nutritional imbalance. Too much fibre, low dry matter diets and too little energy in the diet. Rumen function capacity is limited. Less grass and more energy, pellets with straw will help. Check for internal parasites or chronic scouring.

You are losing the calf. Infection is taking over. High temperature. Chances of recovery are slim. Treat but don’t get your hopes up. Calf Scours, Stress and Digestive Disorders.

With a transparent, watery discharge the calf has been exposed to environmental, housing or nutritional stress. Cause is usually a viral infection. Remove the stress and treat as for a hot muzzle. Where colour has changed brown or greenish and is thicker, a secondary bacterial infection is involved.

This indicates good body fluids and a scour free history. Also could indicate possible thyroid disorder. Fine if all other healthy signs are present.

Suspect high temperature related to pneumonia or a digestive disorder. Temperature should be less than 39°C or use antibiotics quickly. Check for external parasites such as lice.

Calf has a high body temperature. Most likely suffering from a respiratory disorder. Electrolytes, probiotics, Bio-Mos or antibiotics will help.

This indicates an imminent digestive disorder. The calf is likely to be scouring in 24 hours. Skip a feed and replace with electrolytes and probiotics. Could be pneumonia or BVD.

Probably dehydration gone unrecognised. Scouring may be the cause. Treat but follow fluid replacement strategy. Check how quickly by pinching a bit of skin near the ribs and twisting it 90° if it goes back to the original position. Quicker the better. If slow the calf is in various stakes of dehydration.

Milk that is too hot or poor fat digestibility and along its hind legs poor emulsification of milk can cause this. Eliminate the cause and treat area with a weak iodine solution.

Suspect poisoning. Herbicides, poisonous plants, lead, batteries etc.

Milk fed calves only will show signs of a pale anaemia. Solid foods will correct this.

Usually a severe pneumonia. Front legs are spread, neck is stretched out, head points to the ground and breathing is laboured. Saliva will be running. Isolate and treat but may be too late.

 

Feeding Problems

Calves are underfed, under stress or have to compete for milk. Check feeding levels. Establish a regular feeding programme. Calf may have a cleft palate. This when there is no roof to the calf’s mouth. This is not common but can occur. These animals will suffer their entire life, but more often than not these calf’s will not survive through to weaning.

Trauma at birth or after transport. Offer colostrum by stomach tube 2-3 times per day. Feed electrolytes, probiotics, acidophilus powder.

 

Scours

Bright red blood can appear as blood vessels are fragile at birth. Should abate in 2-3 days. Excessive bleeding may require a vitamin K injection. If accompanied by high temperature and scours, coccidiosis or salmonella maybe occurring. Check, isolate and treat quickly.

May mean nothing but likely to be Salmonella or Coccidiosis. Coccidiosis: Calf is 14 days old, likely elevated temperature, with watery faeces containing large clots of blood or dark tarry blood staining. This is common in 50% of healthy calves. This disease is an opportunist and its rise is stress related. Reduce the stresses of poor and unhygienic environment. Check out coccidiosis control agents being used.

Usually indicates bleeding from lesions and ulcers in the abomasum or serious infection in the digestive tract. Medication seldom helps. Feed kaolin based products, reduce grain based diets increase roughage. Colostrum products may help. Could be Campylobacter infection. Antibiotics will help.

Sometimes seen in bought in calves lasting 6-12 hours after 5-6 days. Often connected with a change in diet, or stress by overfeeding. Watch isolate and treat if not self correcting.

Pre-scour signs were missed e.g. loss of appetite depressed facial appearance, facial hair on end. Cause can include, inadequate colostrum, overfeeding, overcrowding, poor sanitation and stress in general. Check milk replacer quality.