Dairy heifer calves generally do not generate revenue until after first parturition. Therefore their management and nutritional needs receive lower priority than lactating cows.
Minimising health and respiratory disorders, decreases morbidity and mortality before first parturition, decreases age at first calving, and increases the likelihood that replacement heifers will enter the milking herd. In addition, minimising the incidence of claw lesions in heifer calves, has been associated with increased milk production during first lactation. Improving health and performance of heifer calves, has a positive impact on dairy profitability.
Most calves are born with reasonable levels of trace minerals, having received these at the expense of the cow. However, a risk period for development of marginal trace mineral status, begins at approximately 2-3 months of age. During this period, calves are undergoing rapid growth and if consuming whole milk, they may be depleting their trace mineral reserves (whole milk is not a good source of trace minerals).
Additionally, calves which are exposed to enteric or respiratory disease or stress may suffer from insufficient or altered trace mineral absorption, leading to imbalances or mineral insufficiency. These needs must be addressed prior to weaning, in order to ensure favourable growth rates and immune function later in life.
Availa-4® for best results
Trace minerals play a critical role in calf immunity, as seen when feeding Availa-4®, a combination of amino acid complexes of zinc, manganese, copper and cobalt as cobalt glucoheptonate. Feeding stressed calves Availa-4®, in place of standard trace mineral sources, resulted in improved immune function as indicated by an antibody titer response to IBRV vaccination and cell-mediated immunity.
However, to achieve optimal immune response to vaccinations or natural challenges, calves and heifers should receive improved trace mineral supplementation prior to vaccination, or exposure to other challenges. Researchers have found that increasing trace mineral status of calves by supplementing cow/calf pairs with Availa-4®, rather than standard trace minerals, decreased morbidity of calves while in the feedlot.
Improving trace mineral status of heifer calves by feeding the combination of trace minerals found in Availa-4®, can help dairy producers grow replacements that are healthier, are more efficient at converting feed to gain and have fewer claw lesions. These factors then lead to improved first lactation performance. Ultimately, the nutritional practice of feeding Availa-4® to dairy heifer calves has been shown to be highly cost-effective.
Zinpro and Chemuniqué are committed to improving the success of dairy heifer calves’ performance factors through quality trace mineral supplementation.
Talk to your nutritionist or feed sales representative about the inclusion of Zinpro performance minerals in the diets of your calves and replacement heifers.