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At Phoenix Feeds & Nutrition, we are constantly striving to bring you the best in quality, service, and new technology. That’s why when we were looking for a new and improved calf program to offer our customers, we turned to Purina Animal Nutrition and the field trials done with Cricket Jacquier at Laurel Brook Farm, an 1,100-cow farm in Canaan, Connecticut. Here’s how here reaches his goal of raising exceptional cows starting at birth:
Our two biggest areas of focus with raising calves and heifers is keeping them growing, and keeping them healthy. The Purina® AMPLI-CALF® Program provides the nutrients, immune support and intake promotion necessary to capture genetic potential and support heifer growth.
We have fed milk replacer for 10 years, and switched to the seasonal formulations in Purina Full Potential® WarmFront® and Purina Full Potential® ColdFront® calf milk replacers about four years ago. At that time, we were feeding milk replacer\ twice a day (2 lbs dry matter/calf/day) in the warmer months, and three times a day (3 lbs dry matter/calf/day) in the winter. After a while, we noticed those 3X fed animals were extremely well-grown and really excelled after weaning. We feed 3X year-around as a result and would not go back. We feed at 7 a.m., 3 p.m., and midnight.
Our milk replacer program might look “expensive” at first glance, but we ran a trial comparing it to a more standard, 22:20 milk replacer, and found the cost/lb of gain actually was 10–15 cents cheaper with our program.
The gains we have been able to achieve with this program have been exceptional. It allows us to exceed our goal of doubling calves’ birth weight by weaning. Currently, our calves are gaining about 106 lbs/head from birth to weaning.
In addition to weight gain, we measure average daily volume gain (ADVG), which is a combination of factors for body girth, length and height.
HOUSING MATTERS, TOO
We use a combination of hutches and individual pens for preweaned calf housing, with a goal of all-in, all-out management in both systems. We try to structure the rotation so calves are indoors in the winter. Staying on top of bedding, ventilation and stocking density is especially critical indoors. Because our calves consume a lot of feed and water, they also create a lot of waste. Protecting their lungs is our number-one health priority.
A CONSISTENT APPROACH
Smooth transitions from one stage to the next helps avoid growth slumps. The calves love the Purina® AMPLI-CALF® Starter 22%, and keep right on eating it after weaning. The fact that the grower feed contains the same flavors as the starter helps make that next transition easier. Uneven consumption quickly leads to losing the investment and growth advantage from a full potential milk-feeding program. This program keeps the momentum going.
Raising replacements is an expense until they have a calf and PURINA® AMPLI-CALF® PROGRAM HELPS KEEP CALVES GROWING AND SUPPORTS HEALTH by Staff Writer phoenixfeeds.net/magazine Perspectives Magazine 15 start putting milk in the tank. On this program, we have been able to reach body weights of 486 lbs by 6 months of age; 900 lbs by one year of age; and 1,400 lbs by 22 months of age.
Better still, those first-calf heifers come in ready to make milk. At least 20% of our two-year-olds are peaking at 100 lbs/day or more.
I attribute those “milk-making” capabilities to the start those heifers had early in life. Their large frames, big volume, deep heart girths, functional rumens and aggressive feed consumption habits began developing when they were wet calves. No matter how good your lactating ration is, you can’t make a lot of milk with average cows. Raising exceptional cows has to start from birth.
Along with supporting our own profitability, we also have an industry-wide responsibility to safeguard the welfare of our animals. The Purina® AMPLI-CALF® Program allows us to take the best-possible care of our calves, for the best-possible results for our herd.
Phoenix Feeds & Nutrition is proud to be a Purina distributor. Contact a Phoenix Feeds Dairy Specialist for more information on the Purina calf program, call us at 802-453-6684, or email us.