Sharing our expert knowledge

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Experts in animal nutrition

Volac is a UK based family run manufacturer of dairy nutrition products, with over 40 years of experience in agriculture. We see our role as providing evidence-based products and services to promote sustainable agriculture.

In particular, we have become experts in processing liquid whey and utilising unique techniques to produce world-class milk replacement products. We offer a systems approach to calf rearing, providing everything from natural alternatives to colostrum, milk replacers and a range of labour saving feeding equipment to suit all needs.

Sharing our knowledge

Volac is proud of the innovations it has brought to the market and we want to share what we have learnt over the last 40 years. We believe the Feed For Growth programme represents another milestone in creating a sustainable farming economy and allows us to share this expert knowledge in young animal nutrition.

The Feed for Growth programme

The Feed for Growth programme recognises that the first 3 months are a critical phase in determining a newborn calf’s adult performance. This period is crucial for rearing efficiency, herd performance and the profitability of the farm.

Volac has created the programme to allow farmers to forecast, plan and execute on farm pre-weaning protocols more efficiently and with greater benefit than ever before. Time invested at this early stage allows the farmer to ‘Grow better cows’ which means better milk yield, better fertility and better longevity.

We believe that this programme alongside our innovative products can make significant differences to the sustainability of a dairy enterprise.

Further information

For inquiries regarding the Feed for Growth programme or any of the other products or service we offer, please give us a call on the Freephone number below.

Freephone 0800 919808

Calves are not small cows

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Modern dairy calves now have growth rates requirements far in excess of those of just a few decades ago, which can make it easy to forget what a calf is and what its needs are.

It is essential to remember that while today’s calves can achieve these increased growth rates, they still have the same physiological and feed requirements as calves reared by previous generations of dairy farmer.

“A calf is hugely different from a cow, with milk being the essential part of a calf’s diet for the first few weeks. It’s all too easy to ensure good colostrum intake, feed milk twice a day and start introducing creep feed and then ‘leave them to it’“ says Volac’s Ian Watson, Technical Expert. “However ignoring the detail of calf rearing can lead to problems, with calves needing constant monitoring, measuring and managing”.

Physiological development
A calf is pre-ruminant, meaning it cannot take nutrition from forage and hard feed for the first few weeks, relying on milk to provide all of its needs. And there is a physiological reason for this that as managers and farmers, we cannot change.

In a newborn calf, the abomasum (the fourth and final stomach compartment in ruminants) is the most significant part of the digestive process, with the rumen (the first chamber of the digestive system) bypassed via the oesophageal groove.

At about three weeks old calves will start to be able to cope with some hard feed and forage, but milk is still vitally important up to at least eight weeks old. Only at this stage does the calf start to become a fully-fledged ruminant able to gain all of its needs from hard feed and water.

Developing calves to their full potential
It is therefore vital that calves receive an adequate supply of a high quality milk replacer in order to develop to their full potential. Calves can be offered some creep feed from about three days old to encourage early rumen development, provided this is supplemented by fresh water too.

The milk-feeding phase is crucial
Within the first two months, a calf’s growth rate is determined by its voluntary feed intake above maintenance levels. It is also important to remember that with feed conversion efficiency at its highest level during the first two months of life it makes sense to ensure calves are able to access dry feed freely as well as predetermined levels of milk solids set to deliver high levels of growth during this phase.

“Feeding higher rates of milk in the first two months delivers significant benefits in two year old calving systems, reducing the overall rearing costs.”

“Calves fed four litres of milk a day gained 0.5kg/day of liveweight in the first two months of life, with total rearing costs to 23 months coming to £759. This compares to a gain of 0.8kg/day when fed six litres/day with total rearing costs of £729 and a gain of 1kg/day when fed eight litres/day at a total rearing cost of £738.”

These rearing costs can be seen in the table below.

This clearly demonstrates the economic benefits of higher rates of milk feeding in these first crucial two months of life when a calf is pre-ruminant.

Milk-Gain-Cost-Table

Unlocking your calf’s potential

Dairy farmers need to ensure they unlock the performance of their calves at every stage of development, in order to remain profitable.

The Foundation Phase It is essential farmers target not just good colostrum feeding, but correct feeding throughout the entire milk phase of the calf’s life.

“Sometimes this period is referred to as the Foundation Phase, and with good reason. The aim should be to double a calf’s birth weight by the time it is weaned onto hard feed. This means it’s vital to get the right amount of nutrition to maximise the chances of it growing to the required weight,” says Technical Expert, Ian Watson.

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Age at first calving (AFC)

Many dairy farmers have the potential to reduce costs and improve herd performance by placing greater emphasis on heifer rearing and getting animals to calve in at 24 months, just take a look at the infographic below:

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Heifer Rearer of the Year 2015

Heifer-Rearer-of-the-Year-2015-Competition-Entry-form-1We’ll be announcing at Livestock Event, the results of our Heifer Rearer of the Year, an award designed to raise awareness of best practice.

Thanks to support from British Dairying and new sponsor Evidence Based Veterinary Consultancy. Join us on the Volac stand, meet our five finalists and see who wins the award –  two places to the Dairy Calf and Heifer Association (DCHA) 2016 annual conference, Wisconsin.

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The UK dairy industry is facing challenges

Volac re-defines feeding for growth

Increased volatility in the milk market is forcing farmers to selectively breed for high yields early in life, but in the long term this can be unsustainable with many heifers failing to progress from their first or second lactation.

To help dairy farmers improve the sustainability for their herds Volac is sharing over 40 years of knowledge in young animal nutrition when it comes to advice on feeding heifer calves for long–term productivity.

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