A dairy cow cannot be a world-class producer of milk if it is not properly conditioned as a calf.
The preparation of a dairy cow starts by selecting a good bull for her mother. Ideally, you want a sire (bull) that has proven to pass on good milking abilities to its heifers. Unfortunately, within recent times there has been uncertainty about the performance of most Jamaican bulls as the performance of their heifers has not been tracked.
Farmers often purchase heifers without any information about their dam and sire. This is risky business, especially if you breed the heifer to another local bull which may be closely related. Using semen from Select Sires gives the farmer the chance to pick the bull with just the right characteristics to complement the mother, thus producing a valuable dairy calf. This way, farmers can also be certain that this bull is not related.
On the day the new-born heifer is delivered, the farmer should start with a feeding programme that allows the animal to develop quickly and healthily so that she will be in production earlier. The Jamaica Hope, Jersey and similar breeds can start to produce milk well before their second birthday.
“Farmers who have followed the guidelines in the Nutramix Calf Rearing Program manual find that their heifers are ready for insemination or breeding at 13-15 months. These animals are cycling, and have the required body structure to deal with pregnancy and the lactation to follow,” Nutramix said.
The Nutramix Calf manual can be found at http://www.the-big-feed.com/guides-manuals/, and is a simple system that guides you through the recommended feeding schedule of colostrum, Kalvolac milk replacer, Calf Starter and dairy developer.
Investing in your calves is the best and easiest way to improve the bottom line of your dairy operation within 2 years.
Successfully grown and bred cows will deliver their first calf before their second birthday and will have finished a complete lactation before the ‘traditional’ heifers have even delivered a calf. These earlybred heifers will provide the farmer with about $200,000 – $250,000 in milk money before the other heifers have even started producing. This extra income easily offsets the added expense of the intensive rearing.
In summary, an intensive rearing of dairy calves provides:
•Stronger, healthier calves with less disease challenge;
•Faster genetic improvement of the herd;
•Healthier and stronger dairy cows;
•Faster return on investment, due to an early first lactation;
•Higher milk yields for every lactation;
•One extra lactation for each dairy cow life;
•One extra calf for each dairy cow;
•Less (young herd) animals on the farm to feed.