Managing for dairy performance

The LifeStart program can be implemented fairly easily. But meeting LifeStart performance objectives may require revamping certain farm management practices.

LifeStart in your service portfolio

As modern farming practices evolve from limit feeding towards calf feeding methods that support enhanced ADG and high body weight at weaning, nutrition will play an increasingly central role in a dairy’s success. For farm advisors who have made nutrition a specialty, this represents an opportunity to extend their support role as they help farmers set and achieve significantly higher performance objectives. For those for whom calf nutrition has not been a central part of their advisory toolkit, LifeStart provides educational services that facilitate knowledge transfer, and presentation tools designed to add substantial value to the farmer-advisor relationship.

A comprehensive management platform

More than a simple nutritional program, LifeStart provides a comprehensive platform that the farm advisor can use to offer a number of related services. Although LifeStart is specifically about nutrition, creating the conditions for successful implementation of the LifeStart program entails heightened vigilance regarding a number of general farm management issues:

  • Comfort: the calf rearing environment should be bright, soft and well ventilated
  • Consistency: a large number of studies have established the importance of adhering to a regular feeding schedule. 
  • Colostrum: neonates should receive 4 litres of high quality colostrum within the first 6 hours of life
  • Calories: calves should receive 150 g/litre of LifeStart approved calf milk replacer or pasteurised whole milk 
  • Cleanliness: calves must benefit from hygienic birth conditions and housing

Whilst these are common goals that all farmers should adhere to, the LifeStart program provides a new impetus to improve efforts in each of these areas.  Achieving higher performance demands enhanced vigilance in farm management and even the most sophisticated performance measures can be compromised by basic lapses in hygiene and calf care. LifeStart can be used to obtain a higher commitment to exemplary care.

Managing dairy change

In addition to their other roles, advisors may need to provide high added value in the area of milk selection and weaning within the LifeStart program.

Whether a farm employs limit feeding or has already evolved towards enhanced calf nutrition, the choice of milkfeed is critical to success. Advisors may need to work with their clients to ensure that the proper milk is made available to calves. While most of the substantiating research behind LifeStart has used high quality calf milk replacer, pasteurised whole milk may also be used providing that variability in protein content is compensated. Non-pasteurised waste milk is not considered compatible with LifeStart goals due to quality and health issues.

Weaning and the transition to solid feed may be of some concern to farmers used to limit feeding. Limit feeding facilitates transition to solid feed by compromising nutrition and underfeeding. Farmers currently practicing limit feeding may need guidance as they modify their approach to the weaning process. 

LifeStart supports your advisory role

LifeStart is committed to playing a central role in deepening your advisory role on the farm. It represents a multi-dimensional platform ideal for reinforcing the role you play in advising on calf nutrition and a platform that can be used to add value on a rich array of adjacent management issues.   

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