Dairy calves

At Trouw Nutrition, our aim is to help farmers raise healthy, highly productive dairy cows. We’ve developed a range of science-based nutritional products and services to support the critical first months of a calf's life.

Dairy calf health
Dairy calf performance
Over the last 15 years, innovation has brought calf feeding programs away from a singular focus on cost-savings to be much more future-oriented and intensive, leading to better productivity for farmers. Our LifeStart calf rearing program and Sprayfo milk replacers are helping to drive change across the globe.
Eile van der Gaast, Global Product Manager Calf Milk Replacers – Sprayfo at Trouw Nutrition

Science-based nutrition for a lifetime of high performance

LifeStart research shows the significant impact of metabolic programming on organ development during the crucial first weeks that helps support the growth of a more robust cow with increased performance later in life.

Go to our LifeStart platform

Related stories

Effect of immunized egg proteins on the performance and neonatal diarrhoea incidence in newborn calves

Ruminants
The aim of this study was to assess the effects of feeding immunized egg proteins (IEP) on the health and performance of newborn dairy calves. Sixty‐four Holstein calves, both male and female, were divided over two treatments. Calves either received IEP or a placebo (PCB) in their colostrum and calf milk replacer (CMR) for the first 14 days of their life. Until day 49, CMR was offered at 15% of birth weight (BW), at 10% on days 49–57 and at 5% on days 57–63. In addition, calves received starter concentrate, chopped straw and water from 3 days old until 70 days old at the end of study. Individual CMR and concentrate intake were measured daily whilst BW was recorded weekly. Visual faecal scoring and health observations were conducted daily. Faecal samples were collected weekly up to 4 weeks and during the first 4 days of scouring to screen for presence of Cryptosporidium parvum, rotavirus, coronavirus, E. coli and Salmonella. Results indicated that feeding IEP increased BW (p < .05) at 42 and 56 days old, and BW also tended (p = .06) to be higher after weaning at 63–70 days old compared to the PCB group. When analysed using a repeated measures model, compared to feeding PCB, feeding IEP increased total concentrate consumption (p = .001) by 3.6kg/calf. Over the entire study, daily water intake was higher (p = .002) for the IEP group when compared with the PCB group. In the IEP group, 12 calves were scored as scouring whereas there were 14 calves in the PCB group. There were no significant differences between treatments in faecal pathogen load of neither healthy nor scouring calves. In conclusion, supplementing IEP during the first 14 days of calf life improved the performance of newborn calves. Further work is warranted to understand the mode of action of IEP in calves.
by S. J. A. van Kuijk on 18/01/2021
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Technical note: Is fecal consistency scoring an accurate measure of fecal dry matter in dairy calves?

Ruminants
The objective of this cross-sectional study was to evaluate the accuracy of fecal consistency scoring as a measure of fecal dry matter (DM) in dairy calves. This study was conducted at a commercial grain-fed veal facility in southwestern Ontario. A total of 160 calves arrived at the facility in 2 groups of 80 calves each. Calves were fed milk replacer twice daily at 0700 and 1700 h and had ad libitum access from arrival onward to water through nipple drinkers and starter through a shared trough. Fecal consistency scores were evaluated once daily in the first 28 d after arrival before milk feeding. The fecal consistency scoring was conducted using a 4-level scoring scale: 0 = normal (firm but not hard); 1 = soft (does not hold form, piles but spreads slightly); 2 = runny (spreads readily); and 3 = watery (liquid consistency, splatters). Fecal samples were collected from all calves via rectal palpation on d 1, 7, 14, and 21 at 0900 h for determination of fecal DM. Mixed repeated measures linear regression models were built to assess the accuracy of fecal consistency scoring in predicting fecal DM. Over 4 selected time points (d 1, 7, 14, and 21) the 160 calves were observed, 382 (61.6%) had a fecal consistency score of 0, 121 (19.5%) had a score of 1, 85 (13.7%) had a score of 2, and 32 (5.2%) had a score of 3. A fecal score of 0 had a fecal DM of 25.1 ± 8.4%, whereas a fecal score of 1 had a DM of 21.8 ± 8.2%. With respect to calves that had a fecal score of 2 or 3, their fecal DM was 16.0 ± 11.1% and 10.7 ± 6.9%, respectively. In evaluating the pairwise comparisons generated in the repeated measures model that controlled for day of sampling, a fecal score of 0 had a 3.2%, 8.1%, and 12.0% higher fecal DM, respectively, when compared with those that had a fecal score of 1, 2, and 3. In addition, calves with a fecal score of 1 had a 5.0% and 8.8% higher fecal DM than calves with a fecal score of 2 and 3, respectively. Finally, calves with a fecal score of 2 had a 3.8% higher fecal DM than those with a fecal score of 3. This study confirms that using observational fecal consistency scoring can accurately predict diarrhea or a decline in fecal DM.
by D. L. Renaud on 17/09/2020
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Tonicity of oral rehydration solutions affects water, mineral and acid–base balance in calves with naturally occurring diarrhoea

Ruminants
Recommendations for composition of oral rehydration solutions (ORS) for calves, particularly concerning Na+, glucose, and their combined effect on tonicity, are not in line with guidelines for humans. Thus, this study aimed to determine the effect of ORS tonicity on water, mineral and acid–base balance. Seventy‐two calves were selected based on the severity of dehydration and blood base excess (BE) on day 0. Five calves that did not develop diarrhoea were removed post‐inclusion from the study. Calves were allocated to blocks of four animals based on blood BE on day 1. Within each block, calves were randomly assigned to one of four treatments: (a) hypotonic ORS with low Na+ and lactose (HYPO); (b) isotonic ORS with low Na+and glucose (ISO); (c) hypertonic ORS with high Na+ and glucose (HYPER); and (d) control consisting of warm water including 5 g/L of whey powder (CON). Treatments were administered twice daily over a 3‐day period, in which calves were offered 2.0 L of treatment at 1300 and 2100 hr. Calves were fed 2.5 L of milk replacer at 0700 and 1630 hr from day 1 to 3 and 3.0 L from day 4 to 5, and had access to water. Calves were monitored for 5 days in which measurements included intakes, BW, blood sampling and collection of faeces on day 1 and urine from day 1 to 3. All ORS treatments maintained normal serum Na+, whereas CON did not. Calves in the HYPER group had lower blood pH and greater faecal Na+ losses than HYPO and ISO. Plasma expansion relative to baseline was higher in low tonicity ORS (+4.8%) when compared with CON (+1.0%). Urine osmolality was 30% higher in HYPER calves. In this experiment, low tonicity ORS were more effective at restoring water, mineral and acid–base balance than the hypertonic ORS.
by J. N. Wilms on 03/07/2020