Farmers could be setting their young stock up to fail the mating season by overlooking the early influence of nutrition on reproductive performance.
Heifers are mated at 15 to 16 months when they are a little over half of their mature live weight, so they need to grow themselves whilst growing the foetus, advises Jackie Aveling of Summit Quinphos.
In the following season, a few months after calving that same heifer needs to conceive again whilst producing milk.
“These all represent a huge draw on nutrients. The question is: Are the majority of young stock having their nutrient requirements met?”
Depending on breed, she says a calf needs to grow between 600g and 800g a day from birth to maturity.
“Failure to do so can affect the age at which they reach puberty. Reproduction will increase an animal’s nutrients requirement and conversely the reproductive process can be influenced by nutrient supply.
“These nutrient requirements consist of protein and energy as well as micro and macronutrients. Whilst many farmers endeavour to supply adequate feed, they may neglect to provide all the macro and micronutrients by assuming they are adequately supplied by the pasture.
As Animal Nutrition Manager at Summit Quinphos, Mrs Aveling has been involved in local trial work using the Crystalyx dehydrated molasses block range in which testing shows many heifers are at risk.
“In one of several Crystalyx trials we have embarked on, a large representative group were blood tested for selenium (SE), copper (Cu) and vitamin B12 levels,” she explains.
“The results showed that 80% of those sampled were severely deficient in one or more of these essential elements. The animals were a good representative sample of replacement yearlings for a New Zealand dairy herd.”
She says the Crystalyx range provides a source of highly fermentable sugars essential for rumen micro flora. It also provides specific macro and micronutrients vital for cow health.
“Replacement heifers typically make up 20-25% of the dairy herd so the performance of these heifers in the first two milking seasons can have considerable implications on overall farm profitability.
“We want them to calve at the start of the calving season in both of these lactations to maximise days in milk and lead a long healthy productive life in the herd.”
The Crystalyx products are Forage Plus (for young stock), Extra High Energy, and Dry Cow (for the dairy and beef calvers). There are also two organic products for cattle and sheep that are BioGro certified as a restricted item.
Crystalyx dehydrated molasses blocks have been sold for many years throughout the United Kingdom, Europe and the US by Caltech, which has partnered exclusively with Summit Quinphos in New Zealand.
9 November 2010