Increasingly calf rearers are becoming aware of the benefits of using prebiotic and probiotic supplements that have come onto the market in the recent past.

With international demand driving demand for dairy product commodities increasing the payout at the farm gate, the ramification of these increased commodity prices have also been driving up the price of CMRs for the forthcoming calf rearing season. 

Once a day feeding of calves is a convenient option that many large, time-poor or professional rearers adopt for convenience and time saving purposes.

Studies in the United States indicate that 70% of calves are weaned 7 weeks of age or later.  This is in light of calves with adequate rumen development can be physiologically ready for weaning as early as three weeks of age (Pennsylvania State University). 

how ruminants digest foodRuminants are animals that have a four-part stomach and can digest the fibre (mainly cellulose) in plants.  These parts are called the rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum.  The large rumen makes up about 80% of the total volume. Ruminants also have cloven hooves and have their top teeth replaced by a hard dental pad.  The farm ruminants (cows, sheep, goats, deer) harvest their feed using a long "pre-hensile" (grasping) tongue, and regurgitate their feed for a second chewing - called rumination or chewing the cud.

All animals have energy and protein requirements to maintain existing bodyweight and functioning of vital organs, as well as for muscle growth and reproduction. In addition, animals have mineral requirements for skeletal development.

animal feed proteins vitamins carbohydrates water trace elementsIn this article Dr Clive Dalton examines the things an animal needs to get from its feed including water, carbohydrates, starch, lignin, glycogen, fats, oils, proteins, vitamins and trace elements.

feed and nutritionWe have to provide a diet for the animal that will meet all its nutritional needs.  From that diet, the animal must extract all the nutrients available from digestion.  What is not digested is voided as waste products in dung and urine. So why does feeding appear complicated? There are usually three reasons: Firstly, the main feed available in New Zealand ie "Pasture", varies greatly in quantity and quality over the season.

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