The important thing is to decide what is best for the calves when it comes to milk feeding.
Should the calf be fed with milk replacer or non-saleable and discard milk? After the calf has received a considerable amount of high quality colostrum with at least 2+.litres in the first 24 hours, it must be followed up with good quality milk. Raw milk consisting of non-saleable and discard milk is given to large calves. The newborn calves – not having a fully developed immune system yet – need pure products. Start with 4-5 litres in the first days after colostrum and then quickly increase up to 8-10 litres for a calf of large breed and 6 litres for a jersey calf. Continue the next 40 days and then reduce the milk, at first by half and then after 50-55 days the milk is taken away completely. The calf will compensate with a larger intake of a good quality calf starter with a high protein content.
“Accelerated early nutrition” is a relatively new concept, and the purpose is to increase the daily gain in the milk-fed calf. Thus providing better health in the form of a stronger calf having a high dry matter intake and eventually becoming a first calver with a higher yield. Accelerated early nutrition is achievable by using good raw milk, balanced with milk powder in a ratio of e.g. 60 g per litre of milk and thus increasing the dry matter, protein and energy in the allocated milk. Allocation is 8 litres for a calf of large breed in form of 2 daily feedings.
Feeding solely with milk powder will require 140-150 g powder per litre milk to obtain the requested dry matter amount. At weaning, the calves must eat 1-1.3 kg dry matter in the calf mix in order to maintain the gain. This is obtained by using the above-mentioned weaning.
An investment in a good quality milk replacer, good milk in large amounts and a good calf starter is an investment in the future of the dairy cow. The gain of the calf in the first 10-65 days is closely related to a later high milk yield. A daily gain from 600 g to 900 g will provide 500-600 litres more milk in the first lactation (305 days). Furthermore, an earlier age at first calving and a cow with an increased longevity and with more lactations is obtained.