A LifeStart feeding program reduces the age at first calving

LifeStart Pillars

Colostrum Management
Weaning Strategies
Calf to heifer

LifeStart dairy heifer management (d70-first calving)

Dairy heifer management has a big influence on-farm economics. The age at first calving is an important parameter that influences average lifetime daily production. Increased growth rates achieved using the LifeStart program lead to a lower age at first calving. This has the obvious benefit of bringing forward the start of the first lactation, increasing the potential production of the dairy heifer whilst lowering the overall cost of production:

How age at first calving affects milk production


Figure 1: LifeStart trials have demonstrated that a LifeStart feeding program for dairy calves improves fertility at first breeding and reduces the age of first conception by 16 days.

LifeStart trials have demonstrated that a LifeStart feeding program for dairy calves improves fertility at first breeding and reduces the age at first conception by 16 days.

Conventional (n=39)
LifeStart (n=42)
1st insemination 399 days 393 days 6 0.39
Age at conception 424 days 408 days 16 0.04
Age at 1st calving 699 days 684 days 15 0.10

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Trouw Nutrition is dedicated to optimize calf rearing principles by developing science based solutions that will enable dairy farmers to produce in a more sustainable way. Together with our global network of scientific institutes, we share solutions to deal with common challenges of the dairy industry.

In 2014 Trouw Nutrition initiated the Kempenshof LifeStart trial in which calves are monitored from birth until the end of their productive life. This trial still continues today.

Our team will share their latest findings and results as well as other important information related to calf rearing from around the world.




LifeStart studies on calf to heifer

A LifeStart calf feeding schedule in dairy calves reduces the age at first pregnancy and first calving

A LifeStart feeding schedule reduces the age at first insemination, the age at conception and the age at first calving in Holstein dairy heifers.

A LifeStart feeding schedule with energized calf milk improves growth and fertility

A LifeStart feeding schedule with ECM increased average daily gain and improved fertility

Growth in the first 6 months has a positive correlation with fertility and health

If calves on an intensive feeding schedule grow better, they will have fewer disease problems and better fertility.

Elevated planes of nutrition stimulate reproductive tract development

Elevated planes of nutrition had a positive effect on follicular growth and reproductive tract development.

A higher pre-weaning feed intake improves mammary gland development

Mammary gland parenchyma and mammary fat pads of calves fed a higher plane of nutrition had greater mass compared to calves on a restricted feeding schedule (10.5g vs. 1.4g and 173g vs. 29g respectively).

Pre-weaning forage supplementation improves growth and milk production

Offering calves forage in the pre-weaning period increases pre-weaning growth, could help in the transition to mixed diets and improves lactational performance.

Feeding patterns after weaning can impact future behaviour

Early feeding practices in calves after weaning can create patterns of behaviour that persist, even if only fed for a short period of time. This can affect future performance.

LifeStart Themes

Metabolic Programming
Glucose metabolism
Role of fat in calf nutrition
Lactobalance, hydration, and osmoregulation
Most LifeStart science articles on this site relate to a particular stage of the life of a calf or dairy cow. However, some general themes are not related to a particular stage of life. For a full understanding of LifeStart science, please review the information related to the 4 themes above: