Rearing Young Stock on Tropical Dairy Farms in Asia
Rearing young stock on tropical dairy farms in Asia.
Rearing young stock for replacement heifers is probably one of the least well understood and practised aspects of herd and feeding management on dairy farms throughout the world, particularly on small holder dairy farms in the tropics. This book addresses all the major concerns of the small holder dairy farmer in Asia.
It shows how to attain optimal growth in young stock, so that as cows, they can calve at an appropriate early age at the lowest cost and promptly substitute for any cows culled from the milking herd. This provides continuing returns on the investments of feed, labour and other farm resources. Low reproductive rates and high calf mortality are the major causes of reproductive wastage. Natural fermentation is an excellent way for storing transition milk for feeding as a source of cheap nutrients.
It must be handled in clean containers to prevent contamination and should be kept in plastic or plastic-lined containers with lids.
Old stainless steel milk vats are also ideal. If stored below 20oC, the natural fermentation will make the milk acid, stopping spoilage for up to 12 weeks.
Rearing Young Stock on Tropical Dairy Farms in Asia
In warm conditions, preservatives may need to be added. These include propionic acid or formalin. The stored milk should be stirred every day to maintain uniform consistency and fresh milk should be cooled before adding to it. The preserved liquid will develop a characteristic odour but calves will continue to drink it provided they are not abruptly switched from fresh milk or milk replacer to stored milk. They may refuse to drink it if it becomes too acidic. Fresh colostrum has a slightly greater feed value than whole milk so less can be fed or small quantities of warm water can be added to feed at the same rate as whole milk.
When teaching calves to drink stored transition milk, it may be easier to begin feeding it warm, hence diluted with warm water hot water will curdle it and then gradually change to cool, stored milk when calves are drinking more confidently. Calves will continue to drink such stored milk long after the rearer can't bear to get too close to it. When the supply of stored transition milk begins to run out, fresh milk or milk replacer should gradually replace it over a week or so to give the calves time to accept their new diet.
Changing from fresh milk or milk replacer back to stored transition milk can reduce intakes and lower growth rates. Whole milk is the ideal food for calves. It has a high energy value and the correct balance of protein, minerals and vitamins for good calf growth and development.
Milk feeding calves in tropical conditions
Health problems are generally lower when feeding whole milk compared to milk replacer as there is guaranteed quality control of the sources of protein and energy and there is no need to have to follow recipes to ensure the correct strength for proper feeding.
Whole milk can either be the commercial milk being sold or it can be waste milk, that is milk from treated cows or mastitic milk that cannot be sold. Calves fed whole milk are less prone to scours than those fed milk replacer. Although it is common practice to feed mastitic whole milk to heifer replacement calves, recent evidence suggests that this could lead to an increased incidence in herd levels of mastitis in later years. Whole milk and milk replacer can both be preserved by acidification for easier feeding management.
Acidification can be achieved through adding 1. If the milk is made too acid, calves' daily intake will be reduced.
To many producers, the decision on whether to feed whole milk or calf milk replacer CMR during rearing depends largely on cost. Sourcing a consistent quality of the milk replacer and its convenience for feeding are other factors influencing its use. Some farmers are concerned with the marked variation in milk replacer quality from batch to batch. Even though whole milk may be cheaper, it may not always be readily available for feeding to calves.
For example, the calf feeding area may be some distance from the milking parlour. Calves should be started on buckets then confined to a small yard to feed for a few days until they get used to trough feeding. Groups of calves will have more uniform growth rates when matched for drinking speed and age or size. Each animal should be allocated a feeding space of 35 cm or if using rubber teats, one teat per calf.
Rubber teats give no additional nutritional benefit over bucket feeding as the speed of drinking milk has little effect on its utilisation. However, the production of saliva is greater in teat-fed calves and it may help maintain fluid intake in scouring calves. Teat feeding has also been shown to reduce the incidence of pizzle sucking in calves housed in groups.
More capital is required in setting up the system and more labour is required for feeding and cleaning. One way of group feeding calves using teats is with a suckle bar. This can be made from 50 mm PVC piping fitted with milk line entries and self-closing teats. This provides continuing returns on the investments of feed, labour and other farm resources.
Low reproductive rates and high calf mortality are the major causes of reproductive wastage. This has a direct bearing on culling and replacement strategies and on genetic improvement.
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In some areas this can be due to climatic stress on temperate or crossbred stock. While climatic stress compounds the other hazards of calf life, high calf mortality is usually due to diseases and poor feeding management. Rearing Young Stock on Tropical Dairy Farms in Asia encourages the small holder dairy farmer to maintain their investment in replacement heifers and gives them the tools necessary to achieve realistic targets for mortalities, live weight gain, mating age, and age and live weight at first calving.
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