More than 270 dairy specialists from all corners of the world attended the Nutreco Global Dairy Calf Symposium in the Dutch city of Eindhoven over the last few days.
Presenting their new LifeStart programme to increase efficiency in dairy production, the company focusses on 'a window of opportunity'. Nutreco's CEO Knut Nesse: "On average the world wide productivity of dairy cows is 30-40% under the genetic potential of the animals due to suboptimal conditions and health issues. LifeStart targets the calf's early days. Extensive research has shown that the key to top producing dairy cows lies in the early life of the calf."
Dairy Global joined the symposium delegates on a tour to the Kempershof, the current research location of Nutreco, where innovative research in calf nutrition is being carried out.
According to the CEO of the company Nutreco is stuck in the middle between surging demand for animal protein and a struggling supply side of raw materials. Feeding 9 billion people by 2050, demanding 53% more dairy products with the need to reduce the footprint by half, asks for innovative solutions to optimise production and make farm animals more efficient. "Feeding the future, rising to the challenges, that is what LifeStart is all about."
Renowned international researchers and experienced veterinarian practitioners explained the concept of LifeStart to the attendees. The key scientific principle behind LifeStart is metabolic programming. Making sure the animal gets enough colostrum directly after birth and feeding ample milk replacer in the weeks to follow pre-programmes the metabolism of a calf to determine her life time productivity. This comes at the cost of extra time managing young livestock and extra money in milk replacers. That said, there is a quick return on investment. Lower mortality, earlier maturity and higher production will pay back the extra efforts and even increasing the profit per lactation for years to come.