You could say it’s been hiding in plain sight. While the science behind LifeStart performance has been established for years, today more farmers than ever are putting it to work on their dairies. Discover why…
Harnessing nature’s power
LifeStart is a science-based approach to calf nutrition designed to help farmers take advantage of the natural growth mechanisms inherent in neonatal calves. The role these mechanisms play in the overall lifetime performance of dairy cows is one of the most important discoveries of the last half century. However, because of the widespread use of limit-feeding techniques, the adoption of the nutritional practices that activate this growth has lagged behind the science that established and validated the phenomenon. The role of LifeStart is to provide dairy professionals with a good understanding of the magnitude of performance attainable and to help them implement the steps required to achieve it.
Sustainable dairy performance
The dairy industry is evolving rapidly and farmers and their advisors are keen to find new sources of performance that can keep them ahead of change. The principle advantage of LifeStart is to provide dairies with a source of sustainable performance that is aligned with economic and political realities of larger operations, the end of milk quotas and greater global competition.
The sustainable aspect of the LifeStart program is found in the virtuous circle of enhanced herd health, higher milk production for an equivalent number of head, and an earlier calving cycle.
LifeStart provides a clear and systematic pathway towards achieving these benefits by focusing on an enhanced nutritional program that enables calves to express their full genetic potential. Thus, dairy professionals can target higher production without capital outlays towards equipment and labor, whilst at the same time better controlling the high cost of morbidity and mortality.
In addition, LifeStart promotes sustainable growth through a more judicious use of resources, modifying the traditional emphasis of saving money by limit feeding calves, and replacing it with an emphasis of investing in future performance. The benefits of the latter far exceed the short-term savings of compromised calf nutrition.
To arrive at such a shift in thinking, it is important to understand how the LifeStart program works, how it achieves its goals, and what is required of the farmer to in order to implement it successfully.
Understanding LifeStart begins with the notion of Metabolic Programming. Whilst this is discussed elsewhere on the site in more detail, the principle notion to be retained is that the quality of calf nutrition in the first 60 days or so of life will permanently affect the health and productivity of the calf and cow over a lifetime. This phenomenon has been observed across a number of species and has direct consequences for the health and productivity of dairy cows. For many farms, taking advantage of these benefits will require a modification in calf rearing practices. Once the decision has been made to adopt the LifeStart methodology, successful implementation will be a result of good farm management practices, including colostrum management, environmental factors such as comfort and hygiene, and the consistent application of the LifeStart nutritional regime targeting a calf weight of 120 kgs at 3 months of age.
Learn more about LifeStart goals and science and how they can be applied in workable, high performance on-farm solutions.
Talk to your farm advisor or contact the LifeStart team for more about how you can achieve LifeStart performance.