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Grain-Fed Veal Program Research

Ontario and Quebec dairy herds produce approximately 400,000 male calves annually. These calves are destined for several hundred veal producers.The goal of grain fed veal producers is to achieve the desired finish at the desired weight and age. The market-ready calf is typically 250-295kg at an age of 25-30 weeks. Finished average daily gains should be 1.13kg or better and feed conversion should be 3.5-4.0 kg per kg of live-weight gain. The Holstein calf has an ability to grow rapidly and genetics, management, environment and nutrition dictate this growth. NRC 2001 – major change is to provide the foundation to think of calves as we have of older animals, in that nutrient requirements are not static but depend on desired rate of gain, body size and environment. The new NRC considers the approach that calf nutrition is dynamic, just as for older cattle. In other words, the product-orientated ‘one size fits all’ mentality of calf raising, (i.e. a single milk replacer formulation or feeding regime is assumed adequate for all calves) gives way to calculating requirements for growth and health and then designing diets to meet those requirements. Conventional calf feeding offers milk replacer, of 20% protein and 20% fat, at approximately 400-450g/d. Using the NRC 2001, this does not provide sufficient energy to meet high growth requirements of grain-fed veal calves. While energy intake is the main driver of bodyweight gain, protein intake can influence both BWG and its composition. e.g.

NRC ration calculations 40kg calf at 10oC 50kg calf at 10oC
Calf milk replacer Grober VG Conventional 20/20 Grober VG Conventional 20/20 Conventional +200g starter
Milk replacer (l/d) 4 4 6 4 4
Intake (g/d) 500 440 750 440 660
Energy allowable gain (g/d) 310 220 500 100 280
Protein allowable gain (g/d) 300 240 500 220 300
Feed efficiency (gain:feed) 0.60 0.50 0.67 0.50 0.42

The nutritional balance of energy, protein and essential vitamins and minerals for very young calves to encourage high DM intakes cannot be achieved from concentrates or forages because of the limitations in: early dry-feed intake, stomach capacity, rumen development, and lower digestibility of concentrate ingredients. (Leadley and Sojda, 1996.) To help overcome the weaning growth depression, it is suggested that milk feeding be increased during the first 3-4 weeks of life, followed by restricted allowances during the next 1-2 weeks to encourage development of solid feed intake. Increasing milk intake early→increase growth→ more vigorous calves→ smoother weaning transition→ less stress and growth depression. With the Grober VG feeding program, the milk replacer is designed to meet the correct nutrient balance for high growth rates of young veal calves, resulting in healthier and well-proportioned calves that can achieve their production goals with a high efficiency.

Grober Nutrition