Feeding frequency

Dr. Harma Berends discusses the importance of feeding frequency when elevating the plane of nutrition for calves.

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Feeding frequency

The LifeStart Calf Nutrition program which, at its core, includes feeding elevated planes of nutrition, improving colostrum management and targeting extra support for farmers, has been shown to benefit both the overall health and the lifetime production of calves. For some farms, switching over to LifeStart strategies can indeed require some small adjustments, but these adjustments can be quite manageable. And, in many cases, they can even bring calves closer to their natural behaviour.

As Dr. Harma Berends points out, when increasing the level of nutrition for calves as the LifeStart program advises, it's important to take the digestive capacity of the animal into consideration. Dr. Berends contends that having higher meal frequency is beneficial. She feels that when possible, feeding at least three times a day would be optimal for not only staying within the calf's digestive capacity, but also to benefit calves in other ways. When thinking about calf behaviour in nature, she points out that they eat at least eight times a day, having small but frequent meals, leading to a very high intake overall. Thus, elevating the plane of nutrition and doing so with more frequent feeding where possible, allows calves to better handle the nutrients while coming closer to their natural behaviour. For those farms that do have automatic feeding systems, the benefits of increasing the feeding frequency would indeed be possible without increasing labour costs.

Dr. Berends understands, however, that for some farms, increasing feeding frequency could indeed have some very real and practical constraints. And in those cases, increasing the plane of nutrition and following the other LifeStart protocols alone, without increasing meal frequency, could indeed produce wonderful benefits.

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