Check rumen function
Make sure calves are digesting solid feed before removing liquid feed from their diet.
Weaning calves successfully onto pasture at target weight
Achieving a measured target weight is more effective than using age or guesswork.
Weaning weight will depend on the rearing system used. On a low volume/restricted milk system, calves can be weaned earlier – friesian calves can be weaned at a minimum of 65kg, crossbred calves 60kg and jersey calves 55kg. Use these as minimum weights, not the average of the group.
Calves reared on a high milk system can be weaned at a minimum of 75-80kg.
All calves need to be eating 1kg of meal before they are weaned. It is important to remember that if a mob of 20 calves is eating 20kg of meal, some calves will only be eating 0.5 kg and will not be ready for weaning. Watch out for these calves, they will be hollow looking and noisy, these calves need to be put back onto milk.
Keep feeding meal
Once on pasture, provide calves with up to 2kg/head of meal daily. Reduce this over the next few months.
Check weights after a few weeks
Occasionally weaners will not thrive on the new feeding regime and will need continued access to meal.
Weaned calf feeding
- Weaned calves need 15-16% crude protein (CP); ideally 20% CP.
- Most if not all commercial supplements should supply 18-20% CP.
- Alternative mixes (plus fresh pasture and minerals and vitamins (bovatec). Soya is the best source of protein, due to the amino acid profile.
Other protein resources can be used, such as:
- 80% kibbled maize; 20% soybean
- 60% barley or maize; 30% PKE; 10% soybean
- PKE is a suitable feed for weaned calves providing it does not make up more than 10-15% of diet.
Source: J Roche E Kolver Pers comm. 2009