Alastair Hayton, the Farmer's Weekly Farm Adviser of the year for 2015, believes that when it comes to milk feeding calves, the most important factors are consistency and quality. Hayton believes that whether you use whole milk or calf milk replacer (CMR), it's necessary to keep in mind the continuity of supply, as well as the consistency involved in administering liquid feed in a routine and hygienic manner. Additionally, he emphasizes that the qualityof any CMR that may be used is also vitally important, as some CMR's contain ingredients which can potentially cause problems for the calves' digestive systems. Thus, Hayton proposes that while you do indeed need to have a consistently available liquid feed source, that liquid feed should be of a high quality as well. It's this overall emphasis on both the consistency and the quality of the program, working in tandem, that he feels is best.
And why does Hayton insist that these qualities are so important? He points to the science that suggests that emphasis on the nutritional state of calves during the milk feeding (or pre-weaning) phase is extremely important in terms of setting the course for gains in lifetime productivity, as well as for the prevention of disease and reducing culling. He believes that the way to achieve this better nutritional state is for farmers to increase the level of milk fed through to weaning, while making sure that the important factors of both consistency and quality are kept at a high level.
Indeed, making sure that the pre-weaning phase for calves is handled properly is critically essential in determining health and wellness outcomes, as well as for setting the tone for increased productivity for the lifetime of the animal. Hayton sees his mission as sharing this valuable information with farmers and helping them understand that with little to no change in infrastructure, they can achieve remarkably better outcomes.