Many producers are currently in the midst of weaning madness. There is a plethora of information on weaning management techniques, vaccination protocols and feeding recommendations. Regardless of your operation’s weaning procedures, the most important considerations should be keeping calves healthy, on feed and gaining weight. Ensuring a seamless transition from a milk-based diet to dry feed and hay starts with proper nutrition to maximize performance potential and prevent sickness.
Prior to weaning, a calf’s diet consists of milk that is energy rich and packed with protein, vitamins and minerals. Therefore, when a calf is weaned those nutrients a calf received from milk must be replaced with high quality forages and additional supplementation. Whether you are turning calves out on grass or leaving them in a dry lot, here are some important factors to consider:
Weaning on grass: It is important to consider the quality of the forage if turning calves out on grass post weaning. During this time of year, many forages are in a declining state of nutrient content. As a result, supplemental feed may be required for calves to achieve desired
Weaning in a dry lot: Calves weaned in a dry lot must learn to eat from a bunk if they have not been exposed to them prior to weaning. It is important to consider bunk space (at least 12 inches per calf) and bunk height so that smaller calves can reach feed and water.
Weaning stress coincides with a time in a calf’s life when its trace mineral status is at its lowest. A calf is born with elevated levels of trace minerals (copper, zinc and selenium) acquired in utero. Unfortunately, weaning often depletes these mineral stores. This, combined with the additional protein and energy needed to accommodate the rapid growth of calves during this stage of production, means proper nutrition is crucial. BioZyme® offers a wide variety of products to meet your operation’s nutritional needs during weaning. Here are some of the products producers have had success implementing within their weaning nutrition programs:
Vita Charge® Stress Tub: A 50 or 200 lb. cooked molasses tub that contains Amaferm® and MOS to support digestive health and promote feed and water intake during times of stress and/or recovery from sickness. MOS traps bad bacteria limiting their ability to do harm to the animal. The Stress Tub conveniently allows beef cattle to get their daily dose of organic trace minerals, vitamins and B vitamins without additional handling.
VitaFerm® Sure Start® Pellet: A highly palatable, pelleted vitamin and mineral supplement for beef cattle formulated with a high concentration of vitamins and minerals to alleviate the negative effects of stress. This product contains high levels of vitamin E, niacin and thiamine, as well as organic zinc, cooper and manganese, and a double dose of the Amaferm® advantage. It encourages calves to come to the bunk and provides a smooth transition during the most stressful time in a calf’s life.
Gain Smart POWER 37: A pelleted, 37% natural protein, vitamin and mineral supplement that provides a cost-effective way to promote gain and general herd health. Contains a nutrient package specifically designed to balance high grain diets and supplemental protein, as well as organic copper and zinc plus added iodine for maximum bioavailability to the animal to support hoof health and immunity.
Sure Champ®: A pelleted vitamin and mineral supplement that can be top-dressed or mixed in a ration to improve digestive health, stimulate appetite and optimize health. Typically used in show cattle, Sure Champ is a versatile product that contains 25% protein and elevated levels of highly bioavailable vitamins and minerals to achieve maximum performance potential. Sure Champ contains organic zinc, copper and manganese and the maximum allowable level of selenium. Added vitamins of A, D and E, niacin, and B-12 allow for added growth, bloom and overall health.
Implementing any of these products will take your nutrition program to the next level and ensure continued weight gain and improved immune response of newly weaned calves. For more information, contact Lindsey Grimes, BioZyme Nutrition Coordinator, at (816) 596-8779.