HEATWAVE System Improves Growth Rates

There is now plenty of evidence that feeding large quantities of milk solids to calves in the first 60 days of life not only promotes a high daily live weight gain but also switches on genes in the calf which enhance its metabolism for the rest of its life.

Lifelong performance is improved when adequate colostrum feeding is followed by an accelerated feeding programme. The choice of feeding system depends on housing, staffing and the type of calf being produced, but all the evidence tells us that for the last 30 years, the practice of feeding 400–500g of milk powder a day is underfeeding the newborn calf, leading to failure to thrive, and leaves the calf more susceptible to disease.

There are various ways of putting more milk into the baby calf, but rearers are cautious because large meals can trigger off scouring. On the continent it is not uncommon to find 3x/day feeding. This allows quantities of up to 1.5kg of powder/day to be fed. The amount is then stepped down to twice/day towards weaning at 8 weeks. Conversely, in the UK there was a trend towards the New Zealand, once-a-day feeding system, which gives a moderate daily gain, but on 500–600g/day does not necessarily allow the heifer to reach her optimum genetic potential.

The Heatwave system simply converts a barrel of ad lib cold milk into a continuous supply of warm milk at the teat. Calves feed whenever they are hungry and can gain at over 1kg/day. Towards weaning, the inlet pipes are transferred to water at night for 7 days and the temperature can be reduced, encouraging dry food intake. The Heatwave system is an excellent tool to maximise growth rates of dairy bull calves heading for market.

The system can handle up to 30 calves or 50 lambs. The daily routine means checking bellies are full, washing out drums and lines daily, never mixing old milk with new. On any ad lib system it’s important to choose a shed with good drainage and ventilation, and always use plenty of straw. Sheep farmers and goat herds are now seeing the advantages of the system, which can be converted using lamb teats.

It offers high growth, healthier young stock and flexibility of labour during lambing /kidding time. We launched the Heatwave system here at Agricentre in the spring and, despite the period since being "out of season", we have sold a phenomenal amount and feedback from new users has been extremely good. One of our own area managers Aimee decided to buy one to rear some calves. Aimee said:

“The system was simple, time-efficient and reliable. The calves, as expected, consumed a lot more milk replacer, but their growth rates were stunning. The system for these calves was to sell them weaned and we topped the market on sale day.”

The Heatwave milkwarmer is an affordable system at £385 + VAT. For more information contact your nearest Agricentre or visit www.heatwavemilkwarmer.com Feed conversion efficiency in the milk period for calves is unmatched. Feeding more at this stage pays dividends right throughout the animal’s life for it and the farm. Read more about how HEATWAVE can help to get calves off to that flying start!