Preparing for calving

WINTER calving is here – are you ready? On average, 14.5% of live-born heifers fail to even reach first calving – every calf born needs gold star attention from day 1 to help reduce these losses.


The ability of a calf to convert feed into growth rapidly falls from around 50-60% (i.e. 100g feed will give 50- 60g growth, assuming a healthy calf in a thermoneutral environment) during the milk feeding period to only 9% by 13 months of age. The pre-weaning period is therefore one of the best opportunities to maximise growth, starting with colostrum.


Colostrum not only helps to protect the young calf against disease, but it is also important for calf growth and development. Furthermore, recent findings suggest that colostrum could help to improve the digestibility of subsequent milk feeds. Colostrum quality should be checked using a colostrometer – remember, a much higher volume of poor quality colostrum will have to be fed to offer the same level of disease protection as a smaller quantity of good quality colostrum. A good level of cleanliness and hygiene is vital – bacteria can double every 20 minutes if colostrum is left at room temperature.

A calf uses nutrients to maintain vital body functions (digestion, temperature, respiration) and only those nutrients in excess are used for growth. Calves must be fed sufficient energy and protein to support the target growth rate – this depends on the total amount of milk powder and calf starter fed per calf per day. Remember – grams of feed IN will determine grams of growth OUT. If targeting 0.8 kg per day of growth – a calf will need at least 800g of milk powder per day plus ad-lib calf starter.

Choose the right milk replacer for your system – if feeding calves a higher amount of milk powder for increased growth, then milk replacers with a higher protein content (23% and above) combined with a lower fat content (20% and lower), will help promote lean tissue growth and limit body fat. Calf milk replacers vary enormously (type and quality of ingredients, level of protein, fat and ash) – which determine their digestibility in the young calf.

Always purchase a milk replacer from a trusted supplier – previous calf performance gives the best guarantee for the milk replacers quality.

Be prepared for calving: having agreed protocols in place for calving, colostrum management and the subsequent milk feeding period will help pay dividends in later life.

Stress Free Calf Management

When you buy a calf feeder from Volac, we don’t just sell you the feeder and walk away. We provide continued support and advice on calf management to help your calves fulfil their potential.


We know that investing in a computerised calf feeding system is a major investment decision, so when you buy from Volac you’re also benefiting from:

Technical Support – A dedicated GB network of Trained Feeder Engineers for installation and support

Expert advice in calf rearing and nutrition – Our Business Managers are experts in calf nutrition and able to offer advice and support to help your calves fulfil their potential

Training and support – Your local business manager will provide full training and continued support for your computerised feeding system

Feeding technology – All our computerised feeders are easy to use, reliable and robust. They can save you time and deliver more consistent calf growth rates

Calf Management Computerised Feeders

Volac currently offer two types of computerised feeder:

Forster Technik Calf Feeders

Urban Calf Feeders

The key benefits of these computerised feeding systems are:

  • Save 190 hours labour
  • Feed up to 120 calves
  • CalfApp and CalfCloud: Calf and calf feeder data at a glance
  • Higher and more consistent growth rates
  • Freshly mixed milk replacer on demand
  • Detailed individual feed behaviour
  • Managed weaning

To find out more and watch these feeding systems in action, watch the videos below:

Forster Technik Calf Feeders

Urban Calf Feeders

We are currently offering 0% finance and a free pallet of Volac Milk Replacer for all customers WHEN PURCHASING a computerised feeder*

*Please note this offer is only available to GB customers.

To arrange a no obligation chat contact your local Business Manager.

Alan Smith, Scotland 07551 153201

Jason Short, Northern England 07850 852375

Phil Brookes, Wales 07860 188630

Howard Gilbert, East & Midlands 07711 123976

Stacey Best, West Country 07711 589607

Ken Stroud, West Country 07713 197084

Alternatively contact us online or call Freephone 0800 919808

Looking for more tips and tricks with calf management? Explore our blog now!