As we learn more about epigenetics, we are finding that there are certain factors at certain stages of life than can affect the way that epigenetics regulate different cells. These effects include external instincts, such as weather, but it also includes nutrition.
Nutrition has been proven to have a very critical effect on epigenetics early in life, right after birth. It can actually regulate or accentuate the effect of epigenetics in certain cells. Especially talking about newborns. Newborns are designed to drink milk. They are designed to consume what their mother is providing for them. And for many years we have tried to provide nutrition through other methods but that is just not possible for the calf to consume enough, to get enough nutrition out of dry grains to compensate for the effects of what milk or milk substitutes will have. It’s simply the only way that we can provide enough nutrients to the calf to have this epigenetic effect.
In conclusion, when a calf is born we want to provide as much colostrum as possible. Four litres within the first two hours of life and another 2 to 3 litres, 8 to 12 hours after. Beyond that, we want to rely on milk or milk replacer, liquid feed, to provide most of her nutrition for at least 48 days. A calf naturally will consume 4 to 5 meals and as much as 14 litres of milk by the time that she’s 14 days. The closer we can get to that, the more we are going to maximize this epigenetic effect.