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Calf and Heifer Feeding Schedule

Colostrum (either dam’s or mixed colostrum from first milking of older cows) fed to calves as soon after birth as possible (ideally within 30 minutes and certainly within 4 hours) protects against disease. Early feeding of colostrum at 4 to 5 percent of birth weight is necessary because:

  • Newborn calves have no antibodies to provide natural protection;
  • Calves’ ability to absorb immunoglobulins (the disease protection component) is substantially reduced after 24­ -36 hours;
  • Colostrum is a concentrated source of ready available nutrients.

The economy of heifer rearing

Major cost of heifer rearing is feed and labour. The cost of rearing a heifer to calf at 24months is comparable to the value of that heifer (note where heifer price is not below Ksh. 90,000 and calf’s at age of 24 months. What do better raising own heifer or selling it or giving somebody to raise it at a cost. Feeding forage after 6 weeks is important for growth of the rumen.

The first estrus in heifers is determined by weight and size. For well fed heifers, this occurs before 12months and when 40% of its mature weight. Underfed heifers ovulate but signs are suppressed, resulting into cow poor conception rates. Heifer gaining weight at breeding time generally shows more definite signs of estrus. Overweight heifers require more servings per conception.

Calves (0-3months):

Total (87.5 kg) concentrate requirements during this period, in addition to 465 litres of milk, are as shown in the schedule below. To achieve optimal growth rate, it is recommended to supply high quality roughage, concentrate, mineral licks/block and water adlib, accompanied with routine de-worming.

Table 2.4.3-Milk and Concentrate feeding schedule:

Age in wks Milk per day lt Concentrate 18 % CP Roughage

High quality hay Adlib

1wk

Colostrum

Day(1st wk

6

Handful

Hay

Day (4-7}1st Wk

6

0.5

Hay

Wk 2

6

0.5

Hay

wk  3

5

0.75

Hay

Wk  4

5

0.75

Hay

Wk 5

5

1

Hay

Wk 6

5

1

Hay

Wk 7

5

1

Hay

Wk 8

5

1

Hay

Wk 9

5

1.5

Hay

Wk 10

4

1.5

Hay

Wk 11

4

1.5

Hay

Wk 12

3

1.5

Hay

Wk 13

3

1.5

Hay

Wk 14

2

1.5

Hay

Wk 15

2

1.5

Hay

Total

465 kg

87.5

Weaners (3 to 15 months):

The protein content in the feed after weaning to 1 yr should be 16%, and from to 1 year to 16 months should be 14% CP. During this stage of heifer rearing, avoid overfeeding with concentrates because over conditioned heifers produce less milk in their later life than those reared in moderate level of nutrition.

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